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

ALLISON LANGDON:

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, joins us now from Canberra. Very good morning to you, Doctor. I tell you what, things aren't looking good in Victoria are they?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well Ali, there's small numbers of increases- increased cases. We had 19 from Victoria overnight and whilst that is a concern, we need to keep that in the context that the 6.4 million people in Victoria - and by and large those cases are confined to several small household out breaks. So, whilst it is a concern, I think we need to remind viewers the numbers are still quite small in Victoria at the moment.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

School holidays start this Friday for Victorians. Should they be travelling interstate?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Karl, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee met yesterday and we got an update from the Victorian Chief Health Officer - we subsequently released a statement for those local government areas that are affected in Victoria, in Melbourne in particular. We're recommending that people defer their school holiday travel either to or from those local government areas.

ALLISON LANGDON: 

Doctor, Victoria is now considering enforcing mask wearing. I mean, it's not part of the federal government's do the 3-Plan. Where do you stand on masks?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, the Chief Health Officer of Victoria, Professor Sutton, said that mask wearing would be considered, which is exactly our position - we're constantly considering whether masks should be worn. The thing is though, Alli, they provide fairly marginal benefit. So when the cases are low, and they remain low in Victoria as they do across Australia, the benefit you get from wearing a mask in the community doesn't really justify us recommending widespread mask use to, you know, millions and millions of people around Australia - so our position is the same on that.

ALLISON LANGDON:

You've got to think though that wearing masks, a lot of people did at the Black Lives Matter and that probably saved you from seeing a lot more cases?

NICK COATSWORTH:

I think the main thing that helps us stop the virus get from one person to another, of course, is maintaining that social distance, washing hands, having the app on our phone. Masks may give a slight benefit over and above those, but generally, in situations where there's lots more cases than the community.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How difficult is it for the AFL, do you think, to proceed with that one case? Or is that perfectly fine?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Karl, I know when we get one case in a sporting code it's tempting to say we should consider shutting the code down. That's not the case. I think that the public health investigation is on-going to see where that player actually acquired their COVID-19. So you know, sports will continue, but the AFL is looking at this very closely with the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Are you worried?

NICK COATSWORTH:

About the AFL? At this point I think we shouldn't be worried with a single case and we'll wait to see what happens out of that detailed investigation that Victoria is undertaking at the moment.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay. Queensland is also opening stadiums - 25 per cent capacity meaning 10,000 fans can be packed into one venue from next weekend. Do you support that as well?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So the important thing about a stadium, Karl, is that you know who's going in, where they're sitting - so if there is a case of COVID-19 you can do the contact tracing. Certainly in Queensland at the moment the number of cases is sufficiently low that the government's taken the view they can have that many people in stadiums. So provided that stays the same that's entirely reasonable position and I think people can feel safe going to those games.

ALLISON LANGDON:

So once people are in and seated, and they're socially distanced I guess it's safe. But are you not concerned about people coming and going, as they crowd into the stadiums?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Yes, absolutely that's important, Ali, and every time that sort of thing is discussed you need to consider the ingress and the egress of people. I mean, anybody who has gone to footy knows what it's like being jam-packed on public transport. So, when state governments do allow people to go to stadiums then it's done so with all those things in mind and those sort of plans in place.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Doctor, thanks for your time as always, we appreciate it on this Monday morning.

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