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

NATALIE BARR:

Coronavirus testing stations in Victoria are being stretched to the limit, with thousands of residents line up to checked as authorities try to control the spike in cases. Premier Daniel Andrews has warned hotspot suburbs could be put back into lockdown, if numbers don't fall.

For more, I'm joined by Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth. Morning to you. There's been a lot of demand for testing, but some of the clinics have now closed yesterday. Are you worried some people with symptoms will give up, because they can't get checked?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, firstly, I'm ecstatic really, that Victorians are turning out in such numbers and hearing the message to get tested with symptoms. There are 87 clinics there, down in Melbourne that can be used. If people are concerned about the queues, then we would advise to go home and then return when the queues are a little less, but they're moving to extended hours. The Victorians are really doing a good job in ramping up testing capability, but there is clearly a lot of demand, Nat.

NATALIE BARR:

A Coles employee, a young student and a family of 5 are just some of the Victorians who have tested positive recently. Should the state go back into lockdown, to try to eliminate this virus?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, there's still quite geographic distribution of this across the local government areas that we've mentioned. So, whilst it's of concern, the numbers are still sitting there between about 15 to 20 per day, they're not increasing beyond that, at this stage. We're going to get a lot of information from that testing over the past couple of days. And really, the Victorian public health unit are doing an amazing job, almost going door to door as far as I know, to give people information about COVID-19 in those local government areas.

NATALIE BARR:

What more needs to be done? Do they need more health workers sent there?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

No, I don't think so. I mean the increase in response, that they've had over the past few days, has been immense and to turn around a program. Where you're actually going door to door and educating people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds about COVID-19, is a really phenomenal response. And they showed what they could do with 160,000 tests, that they did in 2 weeks, which was about a month or 2 ago. So, they do have a very robust system down there in Victoria.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. We've seen Essendon player Conor McKenna return that negative test for COVID-19, 3 days after receiving the positive test. How can that happen?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

So, that— it can happen, obviously, it has done and generally, that means that there was a very low level of the virus, on the first test and the second test came back negative. So, the good news is very unlikely to be infectious. No test is perfect, Nat. It might mean that he had the virus many, many weeks ago or it might mean that he never had the virus at all. You can get tests that are false positive, even with this very high technology PCR testing. So, any of those are a possibility, but it's obviously good news for the player.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. And just on another one; as a doctor and in the interests of public health, should the AFL Grand Final be held in Western Australia?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, as a West Australian and a great Eagles supporter myself, Nat, I'd have to say 100 per cent in favour of that, but not for public health reasons.

[Laughter]

DAVID KOCH:

Oh and also you're going to be disappointed this weekend, that's for sure.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay stop fighting in, David Koch. Dr Nick Coatsworth, thank you very much, as an authority on the subject.

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Thanks, Nat.

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