Date published: 
15 October 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We're back now looking at the hundreds of Shepparton residents waiting in line for a coronavirus test this morning - gee, it's been a long morning for them. The second day running they've been lining up for a test.

ALLISON LANGDON:

It is extremely concerning for Victorian contact tracers, given the rogue truckie who brought COVID to the region didn't tell authorities he was there for two weeks. And joining us for more is Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd. Professor, thanks for your time this morning. I'm not sure if you'd be across this, we just got word in our ear from our reporter on the ground there that we've already seen this morning massive queues at Shepparton. But we're now being told these testing sites are already being shut after just 30 minutes because they've reached capacity. Your thoughts?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, firstly, a big thank you to everybody in Shepparton who is doing their part and arranging to get tested. And clearly, more resources need to be poured into Shepparton and into the surrounding region to make sure that we can do very comprehensive testing. That's an essential part of our national response every time we get an outbreak, we need to get the testing on the ground, we need the contact tracers up there following up with everybody who tests positive, we need people to be in isolation, making sure we don't get further spread.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

And I know this news has only just come into us, so it's a possibility you don't know. But that- the ability, or inability to test further today is symptomatic, is it not, of a place that should have more resources in it this morning and today?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, hopefully there is more resources on the road and heading up to Shepparton, given that we have a serious outbreak there. So, let's see what happens during the morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay. The virus may have been spreading undetected for two weeks. We've already heard this morning, we've got heaps of emails and social media posts from people who are in Shepparton, really concerned. What would you say to them?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, I think your concern is totally valid. It's absolutely essential during this pandemic that when people are diagnosed and are contacted by the contact tracers, that they are honest, that they tell the truth, that even if they have been breaching restrictions, they are honest and open about it so our contact tracers can do their job and prevent further outbreaks. As we all know, we are dealing with a potentially deadly virus and it's essential that we are all playing our part.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Should contact tracers, though, just be relying on the word of people? We do know, we've seen it before, that people are not always truthful about where they've been.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly, we also have the COVIDSafe app which is coming back into its own in Melbourne- sorry, in Victoria, particularly in regional areas where the restrictions have largely been eased and people are moving around more. So, that gives us further details and further data to our contact tracers.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay. Queensland too a little bit on edge, especially if you live in the Townsville area this morning, this woman diagnosed in Melbourne. How possible- how is it possible she was infectious while travelling through Queensland, and also the level of concern given some of the testing results from the sewage in Townsville?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly, that particular case has been followed up at the moment to see whether transmission likely occurred before leaving Queensland or after arriving in Melbourne. Obviously, it's more likely to have occurred in Melbourne, given that that's where the outbreaks are largely focused at the moment. There is concern, as you mentioned, about the detection of virus particles in the wastewater in Townsville. Again, we're waiting for further advice from the Queensland public health authorities. This may, of course, be linked to people who are in quarantine in Townsville. However, there is also the risk that it may be community transmission. So, again, let's see what comes forward from our colleagues in Queensland today.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Okay. I mean, that is positive, it is, as you say, potentially linked to those in quarantine, so it is hopefully not spreading throughout the community. New South Wales is also a concern at the moment, restrictions were due to ease there from tomorrow, that's been canned thanks to this cluster in the south-west. Are we staring down the start of a new wave here potentially?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, I think the positive thing about the Queensland numbers is that the vast majority of people who are being newly diagnosed with COVID-19 are known contacts of people who have previously been diagnosed. And what this tells us is that the New South Wales public health response is working, and we are picking up large numbers of people and, similarly, the people in New South Wales, just as people are doing across Australia, are doing their part. If they're told: you may have been in contact, you need to isolate and get tested; that's exactly what most people are doing.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

There's a degree of concern right across the country at the moment, isn't there. The numbers are still fairly low - should we be that concerned?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, I think that every case is a cause for concern, because every case can lead to a serious outbreak and further cases, as we've seen with the cases which led to the second wave in Victoria. So, yes, we need to be concerned, but we don't need to panic. We have in place very strong and effective public health responses across the country, these have been strengthened over recent months, people are learning more and more about this virus and about how to respond when outbreaks occur.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Yeah. Well, look, really worrying what's happening there in Shepparton this morning, if those testing sites have shut down because they're already overwhelmed. Hopefully that's something they get on top of today, because that's at a critical point. Professor, thanks for joining us this morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well, you know, I mean, look, the Victorian Government has the chance here, has the ability to prove that they've learned their lessons. Now, if they don't get the resources - it's reassuring to know the ADF is heading there - but if they don't get the resources there, and they don't have the contact tracers there today, then there are going to be a hell of a lot of questions that need to be answered. And these people here who are dealing with it, the people of Shepparton, have a right to know those answers, they're the ones who are this morning living in fear.

ALLISON LANGDON:

It's not even 9 o'clock in the morning, it's not even- they've set up a second testing site. How they haven't had more resources there this morning - as you say, hopefully they're on their way.

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