Deputy Chief Medical Officer press conference about COVID-19

Read the transcript of Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd's press conference about COVID-19 on 5 September 2020.

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Good afternoon, my name is Professor Michael Kidd and I’m providing the COVID-19 pandemic figures as at noon today.

In the past 24 hours 83 people have been diagnosed as new cases of COVID-19 in Australia.

This brings the number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in our country to 26,207. The global figure for the number of reported COVID-19 infections sits at 26,517,985.

Sadly, another 11 deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours, all in Victoria, and this brings the number of people who've died from COVID-19 in Australia to 748. The global figure of the number of reported deaths from COVID-19 is 873,131. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19.

Over the past 24 hours there has been one new reported case in South Australia, in a traveller from interstate; one new reported case in Queensland and that is currently under investigation; five new reported cases in New South Wales, one of those is overseas acquired and that person is in hotel quarantine, the four other cases are all locally acquired and they're all contacts of confirmed cases; and, there have been 76 new reported cases in Victoria.

In the past week we've seen 663 new cases of COVID-19 in Australia. This figure continues to fall and compares to the previous week when we saw 951 new cases, the week before with 1600 new cases, 2354 new cases the week before that, and 3493 cases the week before that.

This continuing and welcome fall in new numbers of cases is the result of the restrictions in place over the past month in Melbourne and across Victoria, and the personal responsibilities that the vast majority of people in Australia are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the lives of all people in our country.

I acknowledge the sacrifices that have been made and continue to be made by people across Australia, and especially by the people of Melbourne and Victoria.

Nationwide there are now 327 people with COVID-19 reported to be in public and private hospitals, which is 30 fewer people than yesterday. Last Saturday there were 510 people in hospital with COVID-19, so we've seen a very substantial reduction in the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 over the past week. Among those in hospital there are 27 people in intensive care units and 19 people on ventilators.

Over 6.59 million COVID-19 tests have been carried out across Australia since the start of the pandemic, with over 63,000 tests carried out yesterday. It remains very important that we all get tested if we develop symptoms of fever, or cold, or flu no matter where we are in the country.

Our response to the pandemic of testing, and tracing, and isolation continues to work and work well. We recognise that it is essential that every new case of COVID-19 is being followed up every single day so that we can prevent further transmission of this virus. The work of the contact tracers, especially New South Wales and Queensland, continues to be very strong. The automation of the contact tracing system in Victoria is very welcome, as is the continuing support being provided by member of the Australia Defence Forces.

Just two months ago, on July 5, with the first wave of COVID-19 well behind us in this country, and the signs of the second wave just beginning in Victoria, we reported that 8449 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Australia, with 104 deaths. In just two months we've seen an additional 17,758 people diagnosed with COVID-19, and tragically an additional 644 people who have lost their lives. These stark figures show us the serious impact of the second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria.

Tomorrow is Father's Day. Like many of our special days over the past eight months Father's Day is going to be different for many people in Australia this year. Many families in Australia are separated due to the Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne and the Stage 3 restrictions across Victoria. Many families are separated by the border closures between some of our states and territories. And many families are separated by the international border restrictions with loved ones in other parts of the world. Tomorrow, if you're lucky enough to still have your father, or your grandfathers, or perhaps even your great grandfathers in your life please reach out to them and let them know how special they are to you. If you can't see them in person you can still reach out of course by telephone or video chat, and come together virtually on this special day. Please do not breach any restrictions in your local area to see your father, or put his health and well-being at risk. If you- especially if you're living in an area of community transmission or under restrictions.

And for those of you who no longer have your father in your lives tomorrow will be a sad day. But we can still take some time to reflect on our dads, and the love and the wisdom that they shared with us, and to think about what he would have had to say about this pandemic and the challenges that we're all living through at this time.

Thank you very much and I'm happy to take any questions. I think I have Jade(*) on the phone.


Yes, thank you. Could you just explain how the AHPPC came up with the definition, or proposed definition of a hot spot that was put to National Cabinet yesterday?


Thank you. So, the definition was proposed by the Commonwealth Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly. It's based on our analysis of locally acquired cases in Australia over recent months, and that paper was presented to National Cabinet, provides quantitative and qualitative metrics to determine COVID-19 hot spots for the purpose of the provision of Commonwealth support. And just a reminder, decisions are going to be made based on the threshold of a metropolitan area having had, over a three-day average, 10 locally acquired cases per day or more - which equates to over 30 cases in three days. Or in regional or rural area a three-day rolling average of three locally acquired cases per day which, of course, equates to nine cases or more over three days.

Thanks Jade, do you have any further questions?


Yes. Just given, I suppose, the differences in each state, how difficult do you think that it might be to reach agreement from all the states and territories - at least excluding WA - on that definition of a hot spot?


Well clearly, each of these states and territories is looking at their own local epidemiology, but this definition is the definition that's been adopted by the Commonwealth, and this will be the definition we'll be using in determining the Commonwealth support for responses across the country.


What are your thoughts on anti-lock down protests that are happening now including in Melbourne?


So the question is thoughts about the anti-lock down protests that are occurring in Melbourne at the moment. I haven't seen any of the reports on the protests in Melbourne. I hope that people are maintaining their physical distancing, that people are wearing appropriate face coverings to protect themselves and protect others. Clearly these are in breach of the regulations which are in Victoria at the moment. While there may be a few hundred people who are protesting, there are millions of people who are adhering by the restrictions and doing all they can to bring COVID-19 under control in that state.

Thank you everybody and thank you to our interpreters. Thank you.


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