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

ALLISON LANGDON:

Well, health authorities remain on high alert urging anyone who attended protests at the weekend to get tested immediately if they start showing symptoms. This, as our medical experts issue a stark new warning: Australians must brace for another pandemic or second wave of COVID-19.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, joins us now from Canberra. Dr Coatsworth, always good to talk to you. First up, how many new cases overnight?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Good morning. So, 5 cases in the last 24 hours, and that really is still a fantastic result. We've only had 62 cases in the past week, and 7,265 cases overall. So, we continue to be in an excellent position with regard to COVID-19.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Do we have any details on how many of those are people who've returned overseas? And how many locally acquired?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

We do. So, there were 2 out of the 3 in New South Wales who were overseas returnees and 1 in Victoria. The other Victorian case was a patient who was at an aged care facility who is now isolated in hospital, and the residents of that aged care facility are now in quarantine and appropriate steps are being taken there to maintain their health.

ALLISON LANGDON:

And there's a third person in New South Wales?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

There's a third person in New South Wales, and that particular person is currently— it's currently under investigation, where they may have acquired COVID-19. New South Wales Health are looking into that.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Okay. Now, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has warned that there will be another pandemic and we must be better prepared; this is the group that represents GPs. Is it right?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I think we can always be better prepared in the future; that is an almost self-evident statement, and we're going to learn a lot of lessons from what's been a fantastic response. I think even the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners would agree that flattening the curve as we have done is magnificent. But we always need to be prepared for the future. And as you said, we need to be prepared and improve our preparedness for the future of COVID-19, which is certainly not over yet.

ALLISON LANGDON:

So now, if there is a spike from the weekend protests, when are we likely to see it?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I think it's — it is an if; you're quite right to use that word — we do need to wait and see. The earliest people start showing symptoms tends to be within the first week afterwards. It can be as long as 14 days, as you know. So, I would say the month of June would be accurate. We watch carefully to see what happens over the next month.

ALLISON LANGDON: 

Yeah. I mean, fingers crossed, I think we all have got our fingers crossed that that doesn't happen. But it has been suggested by the President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Tony Bartone, that those who did attend should self-isolate for 2 weeks. Do you agree with that?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Look, I'm aware of that suggestion by the President of the AMA. I think our advice from the Health Expert Panel advising Government is that people should self-monitor. That is, they should be aware of any sort of symptoms that they have that might indicate COVID-19 and get tested immediately.

So, we know that the most important thing is that if you have symptoms the quicker you get tested, the less likely you are to transmit the disease to other people. So, that's going to be the most important element for any of those people that chose to protest on the weekend. Do not be afraid to get tested, of course, get out there and get tested — like any Australian who has any symptoms — it's an important thing to do.

ALLISON LANGDON:

And doctor, a lot of discussion this morning over when fans can return to the footy. When do you think it's going to be safe?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I'm looking forward to going back to the footy myself with my young son — he's looking forward to it. The important thing, of course, about the footy is that you have a large number of people, like we saw on the weekend with the protests of course, coming together from different parts of the city and then dispersing into the city. So, you can be a little more controlled in a stadium, I guess, than you can at a protest — that's an important thing to note — and we could consider going back to situations of decreased capacity in stadiums. But ultimately that's going to be a matter for the states and territories. But it is something we are considering now. So, I think hopefully, within— before the footy season finishes, that would be good.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Well, we're all talking about it this morning. Hey, who's your team?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

We're Eagles. As a good West Australian, I'm an Eagles fan.

ALLISON LANGDON:

All right, we've got to cut the interview short I'm afraid, we've got to go. [Laughter] Good luck with that, we'll talk to you soon. Thanks.

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