Date published: 
11 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Open your borders by July; that is Scott Morrison's message to state leaders.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Yeah. The Prime Minister is urging the states to commit to a timetable as part of the coordinated effort to roll back COVID-19 restrictions across the country. Joining us now is Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kidd. A very good morning to you, Michael. First up, the latest figures if you don't mind?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Sure. Good morning, Ally. Good morning, Karl. As of 6 o'clock today we've had 7276 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Australia, 102 people who have lost their lives. We had 7 new infections which were reported up till 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, 3 of those were in New South Wales, they were all in people who have returned from overseas who are in quarantine in hotels, and 4 cases in Victoria, which are currently under investigation.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Alright. That's pretty good news, isn't it? I mean, bar what's happening in Victoria which I'm sure you're getting on top of. Now, the Prime Minister's directive for states to reopen by July — is that in line with health advice?

MICHAEL KIDD:

So, the decisions about the opening of borders, obviously, is up to each of the states and territories and they're making those decisions based on the local issues in their own jurisdictions.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

There are no health reasons as to why the state borders should remain closed, though, from your expert opinion?

MICHAEL KIDD:

So, the advice, which has come down from the AHPPC to the National Cabinet hasn't provided health advice about the borders.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Just looking at where we are now, you say we've 7 new cases, there's 4 that you're investigating in Victoria as to where they came from. Did you — going back a couple of months — did you expect us to be where we are right now? Are we tracking better than you, perhaps, thought?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, Ally, I think we all hoped we would be where we are now a few months ago. Thinking back a few months, and it does seem like a very long time ago, we were very concerned about what was happening in Australia and obviously we were in the midst of the lockdown at that time. And those measures have worked very well here in Australia, and we've seen the dramatic reduction in the number of new cases occurring. But, of course, we need to remain vigilant and we can't become complacent at this time.

We also need to be watching and seeing what's happening in other countries around the world — other countries which have had similar success to Australia in flattening the curve, but then have had significant outbreaks occurring amongst different members of their population. So, we need to continue to be vigilant and continue to be careful.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Winston Peters, the Deputy New Zealand Prime Minister, was on our program about this time yesterday saying that they're good to go. Is Australia ready to open up a travel bubble from a health perspective with New Zealand?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, Karl, I'm sure that we'd all like to see that, that travel bubble open between the 2 countries. Again, this is a decision for the governments of Australia and New Zealand — both making decisions based on what they see happening in their country in New Zealand and what the New Zealanders see happening in Australia and when both countries are at a level of comfort where they're happy to have the borders open.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

But from a health perspective is there anything that would prevent that from happening?

MICHAEL KIDD:

From a health perspective, as long as we have either no or very low community transmission occurring in both countries, then that makes it much more likely that we'll be able to open the borders between the 2 countries. But, as I say, that is a decision that the governments of the 2 countries will need to make.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Are you nervous, though, that we might see a potential spike because of the Black Lives Matter protests that were held last weekend?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, the protests obviously involve large numbers of people coming together and, as we saw from the media reports, physical distancing was not possible for some of the people who were involved in some of the protests across the country. So yes, we are concerned that if there was someone or a number of people who were infected with COVID-19 amongst those crowds, then there is the risk of transmission having occurred. We'll see the consequences probably occurring over the next week or so; the incubation period for COVID-19 is between 5 and 14 days, and so we'll see that happening.

The important message though, is if you were at one of the protests and if you do start to develop any symptoms, no matter how mild, of a respiratory tract infection, please stay at home, please arrange to get tested. Just a reminder that all the testing facilities that are run by the Australian Government and by the states and territories are free — you don't need a Medicare card — just turn up and get a test and get that for your own peace of mind as well as protecting the community.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Have you had any reported cases from the protests last week?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Not yet, Karl. But it's still a little early, we're only 5 days out from the protests.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Appreciate your time, as always. Thank you.

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