Date published: 
18 August 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALLISON LANGDON:

Well, a confronting new ad campaign launched by the Federal Government is reminding young people just how easily coronavirus can be spread.

[COVID-19 ad plays]

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Yeah, it's pretty powerful, isn't it? Deputy Chief Health Officer, Nick Coatsworth, joins us now. Good morning to you again, Nick. Thank you for your time. Australians in the 20s have the highest rate of infection. It's concerning.

NICK COATSWORTH:

They do, Karl - 70 per 100,000, but this is no different to the rest of the world. COVID-19 spreads most efficiently through our young adult population, so it's really important that we get the message out to those Australians who are in their late teens, their early 20s, how easily it spreads. And let me say the message is not to stop socialising, the message is not to stop being 20, but what is clearly shown in that ad is that even if you have mild symptoms don't go make a coffee for someone, don't prepare food for someone - be COVID safe, stay at home and get yourself tested.

ALLISON LANGDON:

The fact that you believe that this ad is needed says the message isn't getting through to that age group.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Yeah that's correct, Alli, absolutely. We do believe that a new tactic is needed to get the message out there - not to target young adults but to inform, to inform how easily the virus spreads. You know, those images of the fluorescent virus going on to a coffee or burger, those things are evocative. And then when you see what could happen to a member of your own family, any of our families as a result of that, I think that's a powerful message to be sending.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It must be incredibly difficult for you and your teams because, I mean, even inside cities some suburbs seem to get it and others just don't. And then when you've got breakdown of ages where they just don't again, makes it difficult to handle, doesn't it?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, it makes it a challenge for public health authorities, but this is such a partnership. We know this disease has a period of infectivity a day or two before you actually develop symptoms. So what it means is every day you have symptoms and you don't get tested, if you've got COVID-19 that's another day that it can spread within the community and you just put public health officials on the back foot if that happens. So it's got to be a partnership between public health units and the community, and you can see it working at the moment in New South Wales.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Can you just clarify what the rules are around getting a test? Must you have some sort of symptoms to present? Is there a limit on the supply of tests we've got in this country?

NICK COATSWORTH:

We're well within supply at the moment, Ally. But the strategy is very much if you have any sort of symptom - so even the mildest of symptoms, a runny nose or sore throat, then that will be enough to get you a test [coughs] he says have a little bit of a cough [indistinct] [laughter].

The reality is though we can't test whole swathes of people who don't have symptoms - there are some situations where we do suggest that. So you'll see people have gone to certain restaurants or certain places in New South Wales, the Chief Health Officer will ask you to go and get test regardless of whether you have symptoms. So just be attuned to those requests coming through from the Chief Health Officer.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

[Talks over] So in my case, Nick, over the week- last week we went mid-week to a restaurant and the restaurant was very good in terms of social distancing and all that, but we received a call from the restaurant saying there was someone who was asymptomatic at the time inside the restaurant and there was no- we didn't have to go and get a test, there was no self-isolation, there was nothing like that but it produced a fair amount of anxiety. I mean we wanted to, being aware that we can also be asymptomatic, we wanted to go and get a test but you're not allowed to do that. Is there a way of working through that at all? To at least reduce the anxiety of people who think they might be in contact?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I completely understand that, Karl, and I think the anxiety on one level an important thing, because it makes people very aware of any symptoms and to be COVID safe. The reason you don't get asked to go and get a test is because the contact tracers, the disease detectives have assessed that situation and decided that there's not a big enough risk to go and get tested. So I think it's the confidence in the New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland public health units at the moment that they are going to give us the right advice and tell us to get tested. If we don't have symptoms and we still need to get tested they'll tell you.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Yeah.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Alright. Thank you, Nick, for joining us.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Thank you, Nick.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Let’s hope this campaign works.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thanks, Karl. Thanks, Alli.

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