Date published: 
23 July 2020
Media event date: 
22 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MICHAEL KIDD:

Today we are reporting that in the past 24 hours 502 people have been diagnosed as new case of COVID-19 in Australia. This is the single largest daily number of diagnosis of COVID-19 in Australia since the pandemic began. The previous highest reported number of new cases in a single day was 469 cases, almost four months ago on 28 March. We reported only two cases on 9 June, less than six weeks ago and this shows how quickly outbreaks can occur and spread. 12,896 people have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive in Australia. Over the past 24 hours of the 502 new cases, 484 are in Victoria, 16 have been reported in New South Wales, one is overseas acquired and 15 locally acquired. There's been one person in Queensland which is overseas acquired, someone in hotel quarantine, and we've also received a report of one new case in South Australia which is under investigation. In the past seven days, 98.8 per cent of all new cases of COVID-19 in Australia have been locally acquired.

There have been 128 deaths reported from COVID-19 in Australia. Sadly, there have been an additional two deaths reported in Victoria as of noon today and our thoughts are with the family members and the other loved ones of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19. There have been 2,414 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Australia in the past seven days. And there are approximately 3,500 people currently infected with COVID-19 in our country. Nationwide there are 214 people with COVID-19 in hospital, which is an additional 31 people hospitalised since yesterday. There are 205 people in hospital in Victoria. Among those in hospital there are 42 people in intensive care units and this is four more than yesterday. 25 people are reported to be on ventilators, which is three more than yesterday. The rise in the hospital numbers and the rise in the number of people in intensive care is a reminder to us all about the serious impact that COVID-19 can have on the health of many people who are infected.

Over 3.6 million COVID-19 tests have now been carried out in Australia and more than 56,000 tests were carried out yesterday. One difference between the situation today and what we saw back in March is the number of tests being carried out each day across the country. Please, if you have symptoms of fever or flu or cold, no matter how mild, please get tested. If you have symptoms, you must stay at home. You must not go to work. You must not go to school; you must not go shopping. This is essential for everyone and especially for those working in settings with people who are most at risk of COVID-19, which includes people working in residential aged care and people providing home care services to elderly people.

Clearly the figures released today are very significant and they provide a stark reminder that we must all be playing our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. I know that many people will be alarmed and worried about this rise in numbers. But we all know what we must do. Each of us will make a difference by strict adherence to physical distancing and avoiding crowds. By washing or sanitising our hands every time we touch a surface or an object which may have been touched by somebody else. By coughing or sneezing into our sleeve or into a handkerchief. By wearing a mask covering our nose and mouth whenever we leave our homes in the lockdown areas or other areas where there is high community transmission. And by staying at home whenever we have symptoms, no matter how mild, which may indicate COVID-19 and arranging to be tested.

This virus is highly contagious and as we have seen from the continuing rise in infections and the rising number of people being hospitalised and dying, we must all remain vigilant, we must not let our guard down. The Commonwealth continues to support Victoria and have provided over 1,400 Australian Defence Force personnel and hundreds of other support workers assisting in testing, contact tracing, border control, law enforcement and community support. It is absolutely essential that we have rigour in our contact tracing processes. Every case of COVID-19 must be followed up every day. Commodore Hill and his team are working with the authorities in Victoria to ensure that this continues to happen.

The Commonwealth continues to provide millions of masks to support Victorian health care workers and to protect people receiving care in aged care and home care and disability care. The Commonwealth is assisting with the immediate testing of all staff and residents in Victorian aged care facilities with even one case. And the Commonwealth is providing surge workforce to ensure aged care residents receive the care they need. To the people of Victoria, we stand by you at this very challenging time. To those in other parts of Australia, please reach out to your family members and your friends in Melbourne and in the lockdown areas in Victoria to show your love and support.

Thank you, I'm happy to take any questions.

QUESTION:

With the infection numbers that you are still seeing in Victoria, has there been any discussion in regards to doing a lockdown similar to, like, New Zealand, did in the early stages to try and control those numbers?

MICHAEL KIDD:

So clearly the response in Victoria is the responsibility of the Victorian Government and we know that the Premier continues to consult with his health advisors and other advisors about whether additional measures are required at this time.

QUESTION:

But has there been any recommendation coming back from the federal side as in how they should approach or not yet?

MICHAEL KIDD:

So the AHPPC continues to meet each day. We meet with the representatives of Victoria, including Professor Brett Sutton and he reports about what's happening in Victoria as well as all other parts of the country.

QUESTION:

The BBC has referred to this as an endemic, do you think that that is accurate?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Referred to?

QUESTION:

The coronavirus as an endemic, as an ongoing issue, do you think that there's any- do you know what time frame we could be looking at for the future roughly in your opinion?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Okay, so the term endemic means that we are living with the virus as we do with many other infections which circulate through the community at all times. At the moment we're in the midst of the pandemic and we're in the midst of a first wave of a pandemic at a global level where many countries continue to experience the very first round of infections in response. So at the moment what we're dealing with is a pandemic.

On the phone, Steph?

QUESTION:

Hi Professor Kidd, yesterday you described Victoria as a watch and wait situation in terms of whether or not the coronavirus restrictions implemented have been successful in stemming the spread. Today with record case numbers is this still a watch and wait situation?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, thanks Steph, so the question is whether this is still a watch and wait situation in Victoria. Clearly the authorities in Victoria will be looking at the rise that we've seen. This is the most substantial rise and most substantial numbers in Victoria as well as nationwide and will be determining their response. We wait to hear what the Victorian authorities say but in the meantime the Commonwealth is moving in with all the supports I have outlined previously. Any further questions?

QUESTION:

Can I ask another question, Professor Kidd?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Is that Steph or Emma.

QUESTION:

Steph.

MICHAEL KIDD:

So Steph first and then Emma.

QUESTION:

Every day you hold press conferences and the Victorian Premier has held press conferences urging people with symptoms to get tested and yet Daniel Andrews said today about nine in 10 people didn't self-isolate between when they first had symptoms and when they went to get tested. Why do you think that that message isn't cutting through with 90 per cent of people?

MICHAEL KIDD:

The question is the Premier in Victoria today was talking about the numbers of people who are not isolating when they get symptoms and prior to getting tested. It is absolutely essential that people do adhere to the messages which we have been iterating again and again throughout the pandemic. Really important that people with symptoms, no matter how mild, do stay at home and do get tested. This is not a time to be complacent and we need to be reinforcing this with each other and especially for those who are in the lockdown areas in Melbourne where we are seeing the very significant numbers occurring at this time. Emma?

QUESTION:

Thanks Professor Kidd. I have a question regarding the Halton review, looking into the management of hotel quarantine, what are they doing and why are they doing it now?

MICHAEL KIDD:

The question is about the Halton review into hotel quarantine and why is that taking place at this time, is that the question, Emma?

QUESTION:

Yes, and what are they doing in terms of this investigation?

MICHAEL KIDD:

I'm sorry, I don't have specific details of the exact program of investigation that Jane Halton is undertaking on behalf of the Commonwealth but clearly this is important to review at this time in all of the State and Territories, particularly in light of the events which have led to the judicial inquiry which is now taking place in Victoria.

QUESTION:

Hi Professor Kidd, it's Tamsin on the phone.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Tamsin, hi.

QUESTION:

Daniel Andrews today say that more than half of the positive cases that have come over the past month, there are people who didn't isolate between being tested and getting their results, is there a national guideline for people doing the tests, are they told that they need to be telling people to isolate, what's gone wrong in Victoria?

MICHAEL KIDD:

The guidelines apply from State to State and it depends what's happening with the epidemic in each site. In New South Wales we have seen over the last couple of weeks instructions for those who have been in the areas of community transmission to arrange to get tested and to isolate for a 14-day period regardless of their results in Victoria, people are being advised to isolate at home until they receive the results of their tests and further guidance as to what they should be doing next. It is really important that people are adhering to the requirements and the regulations in the State and Territories where they're based. Very important when we're dealing with testing that people who have symptoms are staying at home in isolation until we have a result of whether they are COVID positive or not.

QUESTION:

Just following on from that. They are saying that half the people in Victoria left home between getting tested and getting their results so is there an issue there that people who are doing the testing aren't telling people or is this a behavioural issue?

MICHAEL KIDD:

So I'm sure that the people who are doing the testing are providing instructions to people as to what they should be doing, telling people about the isolation requirements and of course going to isolation does not mean going to the local pharmacy or to the supermarket on your way home. It means going straight home and going to isolation. So as I said earlier, it is really important, especially with the rise in numbers that we have seen that everybody is adhering to the regulations in their state and particularly in the lockdown areas in Melbourne. We cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot afford not to follow the rules. We have to all play our part if we are going to bring the numbers back down in Victoria.

QUESTION:

If people do have symptoms and are asked to get tested should they be isolating for the 14 days even if they do get a result back that is clear if it is early on?

MICHAEL KIDD:

People need to be following the advice of the people carrying out the tests in the various State and Territories where they're based. So, please, adhere to the advice which-

QUESTION:

[Talks over] So if their advice is that you are clear but we still recommend that you isolate for 14 days, that's what you should be doing?

MICHAEL KIDD:

That's what you should be doing, absolutely.

QUESTION:

And there are those who have been told they have been tested and they told they can go back to work this. Is in fact incorrect they should not be going back to work until getting the results, is that correct?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Again, you follow the advice that you have provided from the people who have been carrying out the testing for you whether that is through the Commonwealth funded GP respiratory clinics, whether it's through one of the State and Territory fever clinics, or pop-up clinics, whether it's through your general practice you follow the advice you are given.

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

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