Date published: 
29 June 2020
Media event date: 
28 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

PETER OVERTON:

For more on the situation in Victoria I'm joined tonight by Dr Nick Coatsworth, one of our Deputy Chief Medical Officers. Good evening Doctor. You saw this second wave coming, is what we're experiencing in Victoria within those predictions?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, Peter, the second wave term is widely used at the moment — it doesn't actually have a public health definition. I think from a public health perspective we're seeing a series of quite geographically localised outbreaks. We're seeing a second peak in Victoria, certainly with 53 cases, 49 cases diagnosed in Victoria and 53 around the country that is of genuine concern.

But comfortingly, those areas are quite localised and the massive effort the Victorian Government's undertaking at the moment to get those under control gives us every confidence that we will see control in the coming days to weeks.

PETER OVERTON:

Okay. What are your thoughts on borders? Is it time they reopen, and can Australians, in your opinion, safely move around?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, the border issue, as you know, will be one that's decided by state first — state and territory first ministers and their health ministers and chief health officers.  From the perspective of school holiday travel for those states with their borders still open, the position of the AHPPC has been very clear, that we would ask people to rethink their travel if they're going to and from those local government areas in Victoria during the school holidays.

Apart from that though travel interstate or intrastate for those states with borders open is safe because the levels of community transmission, happily elsewhere in Australia, are extraordinarily low.

PETER OVERTON:

Dr Coatsworth, is it as simple and as stark as it will take a vaccine for our lives to return to normal? And I know there's not a vaccine for HIV, but will it take that for coronavirus to eradicate our lifestyle at the moment?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

I think, Peter, in the next 6 to 12 months that is the sort of thing that's going to make a substantial change to our lifestyle. We would have to see a vaccine come to fruition; that would be a very short lead time for that to happen. But, you know, if we have this process where we can get things under control, and if we can demonstrate in Melbourne that we can get an outbreak under control in a major urban city, that will be a huge milestone worldwide really. And that would indicate that we have the capacity and the capability to live with COVID-19 before a vaccine is developed. So, that's the importance of getting the outbreaks in Victoria under control.

The Victorian Public Health Unit, the Premier, all the way through to the Prime Minister understand that importance and that's why so many resources have been poured into getting the numbers down in Victoria as we speak.

PETER OVERTON:

Before we say goodbye, your colleague, Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, is changing jobs within health. I reckon he's had a terrific, or he has a terrific bedside manner — the way he's spoken to the country. What's it like being— working alongside him throughout all of this?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, Brendan's sort of just demonstrated that he's a titan of a leader in Australia's medical profession, steering us through the pandemic, leading the chief health officers around Australia. And for me as a sort of younger doctor, looking at Brendan, I'm just proud to have been able to work with someone who has such finesse.

PETER OVERTON:

Dr Nick Coatsworth, thank you for all the work you're doing for Australia as well, and thanks for joining us on the Late News.

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you, Peter.

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