Deputy Chief Medical Officer interview on Today Show on 8 July 2020
Read the transcript of Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd's interview on Today Show on 8 July 2020 about coronavirus (COVID-19).
Well, let's bring in now the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd who is also joining us from Canberra. Professor, thank you for your time this morning. A hundred and fifty-four out of the 191 new cases determined yesterday are still under investigation. How do you contact trace so many cases? Have we now lost control of it?
No, we haven't lost control and, in fact, what we've seen over the last week is a very substantial boost in the number of people involved in both testing people across Melbourne, but also with the very essential contact tracing to follow up everybody who has been in contact with someone who is a new infection.
We've had over 800 personnel contributed by the Commonwealth to assist with that additional contact tracing and testing and we have contact tracers in other states and territories who are assisting as well. This is a national response to the outbreak we're seeing happening in Melbourne.
What is happening, Professor, in relation to the towers? If someone tests positive in there, are they being moved out or are they just going into an isolation or a lockdown inside their own rooms, because they're over crowded anyway?
So, Karl, that obviously is an issue for the health authorities in Victoria, how they manage each individual positive case which is being diagnosed in the towers.
[Talks over] What are they telling you?
My understanding is that people who are being diagnosed who are seriously unwell, of course, are being moved to hospital where that is appropriate. Other people are being isolated in their apartments. But that's being dealt with on a case by case basis by the authorities in Victoria.
I mean you now have hundreds of people who are confirmed cases where you don't know the source. I don't know how you can contact trace. We're hearing cases where people are being told: you're a close contact but it was five days later. So, this is spreading and it feels like we're playing catch-up. Are you using the app? Is the app yet helping to trace these people?
Yes, as Brett Sutton said yesterday. The app is now coming into its own because what the app helps us with is to identify those people who you don't know, the person who may have been standing beside you on a bus or a tram, the person who may have had their back to you when you're having a meal in a restaurant, the person who may have been standing in front or behind you when you were standing in a queue.
Now more than ever it's really important that people do download the app if they haven't already done so especially in Melbourne. We've released our versions of the app now in five additional languages: in Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean.
We do encourage everyone to download the app. Clearly, people will be in isolation across Melbourne in their homes from Melbourne from tonight. But when people do have to leave their homes for essential reasons, for shopping or for medical appointments, very important they have the app on their phones.
Psychologically and you've been a great voice of reason, Professor, during the whole crisis and we can't imagine the work you've been doing and the hours you put in. But psychologically, this is incredibly painful for the people of Victoria, incredibly painful and debilitating to now look at another six weeks of lockdown.
Yes. So this is going to be very tough for everybody who suddenly finds themselves tonight moving back into lockdown. And I think it's really important, Karl, that we remember that we have lived through this before, that we do know how to deal with the lockdown period, that it's really important that we maintain that social connectivity with each other, even while we're physically distant from our loved ones, from our friends and from our family.
And I think again it's really important we think back to what made the lockdown bearable the first time. And for many, it was having a routine each day, taking control of the small things in your daily life that you could, doing things that you enjoy at home. Very importantly, reaching out to elderly neighbours and people who live near you, who you know are living on their own, reaching out to family and friends.
For the rest of Australia, this is not just a Victoria problem. This is something which is affecting all of Australia. Please reach out to your family and your friends on a regular basis and support them. And for people who do feel very anxious or very depressed with the prospect of going back into lockdown please reach out to the support services, to Beyond Blue, to Lifeline, to the other mental health services.
Professor, thank you again for your time today. Really appreciate it.