Date published: 
13 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well, testing will intensify across Victoria today to protect regional areas from Melbourne's hotspots with close to 1,500 cases currently active across the state.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, joins us now for more. Michael, a very good morning to you. There's been so much talk about making masks mandatory. Should it happen?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly at the moment we are encouraging people in the hotspot areas, in the areas where community transmission is occurring, to wear a mask, particularly in those areas where physical distancing may not be possible – this is obviously on public transport if you're travelling to work, when you're going and doing your essential shopping in the supermarket. So yes, we are encouraging that of all people in Melbourne and the surrounding areas which are in lockdown at this time.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I reckon that it maybe requires more than that because there is so much confusion. I mean, your message hasn't been confused to be fair, but I was travelling on a plane on Friday – some people had it, some people didn't, the staff didn't. Maybe there just needs to be 1 rule? I mean, does it help?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

I think what people need during the pandemic is consistent messaging, and clearly some of the messaging does change over time as the situation changes, as we've seen happen in Melbourne, with the community transmission that is now happening in the city.

So, it is important that we are getting consistent messaging out. Certainly, if you're not in the areas of community transmission you may still choose to wear a mask in those areas where you find that you're not able to do physical distancing. And of course, Karl, travelling on an airplane is exactly 1 of those circumstances.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So, do you think it should be mandatory then? I mean, it seems to me the only way to get the message through is to make it really simple for the public.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, that's an issue for Victoria at this time as to whether they wish to mandate the wearing of masks – at the moment it's very strongly encouraged. And so, to the people of Melbourne, of course you shouldn't be leaving your homes unless it's for those essential reasons for doing so, but, if you do leave your homes, strongly encourage you to wear a mask.

ALLISON LANGDON:

I think that's been the issue for a lot of people, that we haven't always had the federal and state and territory advice line up. I mean, we're hearing now child-to-child transmission is more likely than initially predicted. Does that then change the messaging and advice around schools being safe?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly the advice from the health authorities has been very aligned. As you know through the AHPPC we meet every day, including over the weekend, with the states and territories coming together with the Commonwealth to make sure that we are getting consistent messaging out to everybody. In Victoria of course, with the schools, the schools are opening today but only for the most senior students who will be attending schools – the other children of course will be getting their schooling at home.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Professor, we had– there's been a lot of some terrible news from Victoria over the last few days, and the sheer numbers, the raw numbers of people who have been contracting the virus. I note with interest this morning, I saw a tweet from Jeff Kennett, the former premier, saying, you know, maybe it will go to 1,000, just you know, hypothetically. How bad are the numbers going to get? And what should we be prepared for if we live in Victoria in the coming weeks?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well certainly, we've now been in lockdown over the last 4 days and we know the incubation period for COVID-19 is usually between 5 to 7 days but can be up to 14 days. So, we're going to probably still see significant numbers of people being diagnosed each day [audio skip] upcoming week and then we hope that the measures which have been put in place, and the magnificent response by the people of Victoria, will result in those numbers coming back down again as we saw the first time around.

ALLISON LANGDON:

This south-west Sydney cluster. How successful has contact tracing been so far?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, contact tracing is very extensive with that cluster around the Crossroads Hotel. We are recommending that anyone who attended that venue between 3 and 10 July isolate at home for the next 14 days, arrange to get tested, and when you get tested advise that you were at the Crossroad Hotel. Clearly, the contact tracers in New South Wales are going all out to follow up with all the people who may have come in contact with the small number of people who've been diagnosed with COVID-19 from that venue.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We've been told too that there are 2 soldiers, or personnel rather, who may have contracted the virus on the RAF base in Wagga Wagga. Have you heard that?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

I haven't heard that at this time.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay we'll wait and see. We're hearing that they may be in– those personnel maybe in lockdown but we'll see what happens with that. Are you comfortable with where New South Wales is at the moment?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, we're very concerned about what's happening with any outbreak that we see anywhere in the country. So, very important that we have a rigorous response and that's exactly what's happening in New South Wales. The health authorities have moved in very swiftly and with very large numbers of people involved in testing and contact tracing, around that outbreak around the hotel.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Right. Well, let's hope it doesn't end up as a situation like we're seeing in Victoria. Professor, thank you for joining us this morning.

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