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

ANNALEISE NIELSEN:

Now, joining us live is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Nick Coatsworth. Nick Coatsworth, thank you for your time on this. The situation in Victoria is looking very grim. Can you tell us, do you expect the lockdown will only last 6 weeks? Or is it going to be longer

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well I think Premier Andrews has already foreshadowed the possibility that 6 weeks might not be enough. But, I think we just have to remember for all your viewers down in Victoria that there's only 1 way to bend that curve down quicker and that is to do precisely what the government is asking of us.

It is, it is a very challenging time of course but we know that if we distance from each other, that if we wear masks in public that that curve will bend and that it will– the case numbers will start to come down. So, at its core, this is a simple proposition, but I understand that the second time around it's more difficult to do. I would just ask Victorians and those in the lockdown areas to do their best, stay the course, and, make sure that at all times you're following those instructions from Premier Andrews and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

ANNALEISE NIELSEN:

We've had this announcement from the Federal Government that there is going to be a stricter regulation of aged care homes – aged care staff will be prevented from working in more than one centre, things like that. Is this too little too late? Should this have been done earlier?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well no. And I think if we if we look specifically at that issue of people who work between aged care facilities. Can you imagine if we didn't have the number of cases that we do now, the imposition that that would have made on those aged care workers – stopping them having access to their livelihood. Now that is a big deal and that decision is being backed up of course by the Federal Government making sure that those workers will be adequately compensated for only working at a single facility.

Why do we need to do that? Because it is absolutely critical to decrease the movement from facility to facility when there is such extensive numbers of COVID-19 across, across Victorian aged care. That's part 1 of a series of critically important measures that's going to help bring things under control

ANNALEISE NIELSEN:

And just finally, we've seen a number of cases in Victoria where younger people are being treated in hospital with coronavirus – that's how serious it's gotten. These people though, do they have any other kind of comorbidities? Things like obesity or other conditions that would make them more susceptible to coronavirus?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, 1 of the things that we've got to be careful to do, particularly when there have been people who have lost their lives, is commenting on individual cases – so we don't have that data at the moment. Of course, for anyone who's lost their lives to COVID-19, our hearts go out to their families and friends.

The, the message for young Australians of course is that whilst your chance of getting severe COVID-19 is less, it is clearly not zero. It is clearly not zero, and there are young people in Australia now and around the world that have become severely affected from COVID-19, and there have been fatalities. So this is just adding to the message that none of us are immune, that all of us need to play our part, and, that doing so will get control of COVID-19.

ANNALEISE NIELSEN:

Why is that though? That we can't get more information on these individual cases without identifying the person? This is something that's changed our way of life in this country. It's important for knowing your own susceptibility and how severely you'll be impacted. So if there is another reason that makes someone much sicker with coronavirus than they would be otherwise, isn't that something Australians have the right to know?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Yes, I actually agree. And I guess what I was referring to is in the, in the early days after someone– a family's been so severely affected by COVID-19 we wouldn't be discussing individual cases.

At a broader level though, the Australian Government – in fact, the Department of Health – collects all sorts of information about COVID-19 cases, we have an intensive care database that makes sure that we are up to date on the comorbidities that people have.

So, at a broader level we certainly collect that, we can certainly discuss that. But for, obviously, for cases that have patients that have passed on recently it's, it's not appropriate for us to discuss those issues.

ANNALEISE NIELSEN:

Dr Nick Coatsworth, thank you for your time.

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you.

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