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

PETER STEFANOVIC:

Joining me now is Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd. Professor, good morning. Good to see you, thanks for joining us. So do you- from your point of view, should these protests go ahead tomorrow night?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, Peter. We're very concerned when large groups of people are coming together and especially in an uncontrolled manner as we've seen with the protests. And the risk of people not being able to maintain physical distancing, the risk that there might be somebody or more than 1 person within that crowd who has COVID-19 — whether they've got symptoms or haven't got symptoms — and the risk of spread to other people who are attending the protest. I think from the health perspective the most important message is that anyone who took part in the protests last weekend, if you develop any symptoms of fever, respiratory tract infection please stay at home and arrange to get tested. We know that the incubation period is from 5 days, to 7- up to 14 days, so if people have been infected we'd expect those infections to start occurring over the next few days. But, we are concerned each time we see large crowds of people coming together in this way.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

So, in your expert medical opinion; should people go to the protest?

MICHAEL KIDD:

My advice to people is there are other ways to protest, there are other ways to express your concern about racism and discrimination and violence. Please protect your health, protect the health of those you love.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

What about those people who do go to the protest, Professor, and don't get any symptoms? Do you suggest that they shouldn't get tested?

MICHAEL KIDD:

So, at the moment we're recommending testing for people who do have symptoms or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. Clearly, this is the problem with, or the challenge with people coming together in large crowds — you don't know if you've been in contact with somebody or not.

At the moment the advice is not for asymptomatic people to get tested but clearly we'd prefer that people didn't put themselves in that situation. All the measures that we've had in place over the last few months, that everyone in Australia has been adhering to so well with our hand hygiene, our cough etiquette and our physical distancing, is just still so important. We're still living with a very serious infectious disease, we still have the risk of people contracting COVID-19 and dying in Australia. We can see the impact that this virus is having in countries all around the world. We don't want the risk of resurgence or the so-called second wave occurring in Australia.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

So, the politicians that went — the four Labor MPs that went to those Black Lives Matter protests on the weekend, Professor, they have been tested. But they got tested 2 days after going to the march so I guess it stands to reason that they may well come back negative. So, how much time is actually needed for the virus to be picked up?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well that's a great question and it, of course, is variable — it depends on each individual as to when they become infectious to other people. We do know that people become infectious to others within a couple of days of developing symptoms, but symptoms can occur within 5, 7, 14 days of having been exposed to the virus. So, my advice to anyone who has already been tested from the protests last weekend is if you develop symptoms in the week or so to come please arrange for another test. It may have been that that you were tested too early before — it could still be COVID-19.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

So, there is a chance that these Labor MPs — they test negative today, they go back to work — but they may still have coronavirus? They may just get it 3 or 4 days after that?

MICHAEL KIDD:

They may have- sorry, they may become infectious 3 or 4 days after that if they were infected, obviously, on the weekend [indistinct] and that applies to everybody who's-

PETER STEFANOVIC:

[Interrupts] So it can mean- Sorry, Professor. So a test straight away after the march is a bit redundant?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, a test immediately after the march, of course; will tell us your status — whether you've been infected or not, 5 or 7 or up to 14 days before that test was carried out.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

Yeah. But I guess my point is that if you go to a march and get tested 2 days after that there's no real point to that because you might not have any symptoms? But, that will come later?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes, your symptoms may come later but you still may be infectious, of course, before you develop symptoms. So as I say, just re reiterating it's really important that if people have been tested and haven't had symptoms, but then go on to develop symptoms, that they arranged to get retested.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

So, is that be the same, Professor, as you know sports starting to go back? Some crowds starting to go back? Is that the same kind of rationale that you're using for that?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, there's a difference with people going back to organised sporting events in that there's a much higher level of control over the crowd that goes to those venues. So, each venue which is opening up is required to undertake a COVIDSafe risk assessment to mitigate any risks to the public or to their staff who are working in that venue. Everyone who turns up to a sporting event will have a ticket so we'll have the details of everybody who's been there and if there is an outbreak that occurs amongst those people were able to very quickly move in and identify people, do the contact tracing and the testing which occurs. In the venue they can arrange for people to be seated suitable distances apart. Obviously, if you're going through a football match and likely be standing up and shouting you need to be more than 1.5 metres away from other people. But in a very large stadium you're able to have more physical distancing than when people are crowded in the streets.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

Okay. Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd. Appreciate your time this morning, thanks for joining us.

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