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

PETER OVERTON:

For more on the second wave in Victoria and the concerning cases in New South Wale, let's bring in one of our Deputy Chief Medical Officers, Dr Nick Coatsworth. Good evening, Dr Coatsworth.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Good evening, Peter.

PETER OVERTON:

We last spoke about a fortnight ago, how things have changed since then? Are you worried by the speed of these developments?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Yes, we are, Peter, we're deeply concerned about the number of cases in Victoria and certainly the new cases related to the Cross Roads Pub in Casula are concerning. The New South Wales public health authorities are right on to this, they've had pop up testing for several days. We've put out a call today for anybody who's been at that pub from 3 July to 10 July to get tested regardless of symptoms. Nonetheless, the New South Wales authorities have announced a further four cases this afternoon of COVID-19 linked to that pub.

PETER OVERTON:

Each day Victoria is at record levels of daily new cases - they're sort of the highest they've ever been. Can it be brought under control, Doctor? And if so, how long do you think that would take?

NICK COATSWORTH:

It can certainly be brought under control, Peter. I mean, we're in 9797 cases Australia wide so far, it will tick over to 10,000 tomorrow I'm sure. But we know that the physical distancing works, we know that the stage three restrictions of movement - as hard as they are for people in Victoria - do stop the virus from one person to the other. So it will be brought under control, we will see a plateau in the number of cases. But the fact that it's in the community now will mean, I think, that it lasts for a little longer before we see the curve flattening and dropping down the other side again.

PETER OVERTON:

You're thinking two weeks? Three weeks? A month? Can you put a time on it? Or an educated guess?

NICK COATSWORTH:

It's certainly very hard to put a time on it, we're going to look at things day-by-day. But it's simply to say that we wouldn't be surprised if it takes things slightly longer to get under control. This is a different epidemic, it's centred within the community in greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire which makes it very different to the travel related epidemic that we saw in February and March.

PETER OVERTON:

Some experts are suggesting a change of tack, there are always other people with opinions, go for an all-out elimination strategy - that's a total lockdown to stamp out the virus completely. Is that feasible?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, we don't think it is, Peter, we don't think it is feasible. We have gone for an aggressive suppression strategy which, as you see, has worked for 7 out of the 8 jurisdictions. The problem is we're about to tick over to 13 million cases worldwide. We will still have international freight coming in; we'll still have returning Australian travellers; eventually, we'll likely have international students as well - so there is always going to be a risk of incursion of this virus. What we need to work for is no unlinked community transmission cases, that is no cases in the community where we don't know where it's come from. If we can reach that again, that will be the ideal point.

PETER OVERTON:

And before I go my 13-year-old and my 11-year-old, they're two little girls, they say to me, this is stressful, Dad, how long will it go on for? I tell them a long time. Is that a fair thing to say to kids?

NICK COATSWORTH:

It's the same thing that I say to my nine-year-old. But we've got to get out there, we've got to teach them to be COVID safe; wash their hands when they can; keep their distance; but, keep having fun as kids.

PETER OVERTON:

Good on you. Always great to chat to you. Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth. Thank you.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thanks, Peter.

 

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