Deputy Chief Medical Officer press conference about COVID-19 on 3 July 2020
Read the transcript of Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd's press conference about COVID-19 on 3 July 2020.
My name is Professor Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer here at the Department of Health here in Canberra. This is the daily update in Australia as of 12 o'clock today, we have over- we have, sorry, 8066 people reported as COVID-19 positive. 104 people in Australia have lost their lives to COVID-19. In the past 24 hours, we've had 66 people who've been diagnosed as new cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been no additional deaths. All 66 new cases are in Victoria. This compares to 77 cases reported from Victoria yesterday.
The number of new cases being detected in Victoria continues to be significant, but has not been rising substantially from day to day, despite the very large numbers of tests being carried out. This is a strong indication of the effectiveness of the measures which have been implemented in Victoria in response to the outbreak. The figures are showing are some signs of stabilisation, but it is too early to confirm.
27 people are now in hospital across the country with COVID-19 and this includes seven people in intensive care. Yesterday, there were 24 people in hospital with five in intensive care units, so we are seeing a continuing rise in the number of people in hospital and in intensive care. And this is very concerning and reinforces the very serious risks of COVID-19, especially to older people and people with serious chronic disease.
There have been over 2.61 million tests conducted across Australia and this includes over 26,000 tests carried out yesterday in Melbourne in response to the outbreaks in the city. The level of testing that we've seen in Victoria continues at a high level and especially in the affected postcodes in the north-west of the city. We continue to be very concerned about the outbreak in Victoria and the continuing cases of community transmission. This is a warning for everybody in Australia. The importance of continuing to adhere to the measures that are in place to protect us all. We are all at risk of resurgence of COVID-19.
The Commonwealth supports the widespread testing that is under way in Victoria and the extensive contact tracing to identify those you may have been in contact with someone infected by COVID-19. If you are approached and asked to have a test, please comply. You may be infected with COVID-19 and have no symptoms but still be infectious and putting at risk your own loved ones, your family, and your friends. So again, please, if you are asked to have a test, please have the test done. Put your own mind at risk- sorry, put your own mind at ease and put at ease the minds of your family members as well.
The teams of people involved in this critical work in Victoria has been supplemented by members of the Australian Defence Force and by additional teams by people supplied by the Commonwealth and also by several of the state and territories. I thank everyone who has stepped up to be involved in protecting the people of Melbourne and the people of Australia in this way. Our country has come together to support the people of Victoria. Right from the beginning of our national response to the pandemic, we have been advising that we expected outbreaks to occur and that we would need to continue to test, to trace and to isolate, and if necessary, to require additional lockdowns. This is what's happening in Melbourne at this time. The action in Victoria is consistent and in line with the nationally agreed approach of test, trace and isolate.
I want to especially thank those people in Melbourne who have found themselves back in lockdown over the last two days. I know this is come as a shock to many of you. I know this has come as a shock to many of you, and has caused a great deal of concern and distress. Please know that the rest of our country supports you and we are grateful for you for doing all you can to stop the spread of COVID-19. By following the restrictions in place in Victoria, you are not only protecting your own family and friends, you are protecting everybody in our country.
I repeat my reminder from yesterday to the people now living in the lockdown suburbs in Melbourne about the mental health support that is available to you through Beyond Blue, through Lifeline, and through other mental health service providers. And a reminder that you can also reach out to your local general practitioner using telehealth, just as we did during the initial lockdown period. If you find yourself back in isolation and you are feeling fearful or distressed or despondent, please reach out for assistance and support. And if you develop medical symptoms over the next four weeks while you are in lockdown that need attention, please do not neglect your own health. Please reach out to your general practitioner for assistance. Please look after each other and know that you are not alone.
Thank you and I'm happy to take any questions.
How much longer would you need to see the cases in Melbourne around that same level or lower before you're confident that that situation has stabilised?
Yes, so clearly, we're are following the situation daily both at the Victorian level but also at the national level, and what we hope to see is that the numbers will continue to come down. Obviously, the numbers that we're seeing today reflect what was happening with infections a few days ago because of the time it may take for someone to become positive once they're infected. So, it's too early to say that things have stabilised as yet, we hope they have, given the level of testing and contact tracing that is under way, but we need to follow it for a few more days.
Are you concerned that a super-spreader could be responsible for some of the new cases in Victoria?
Yes, it's difficult to know. Again, with COVID-19, we are still learning about this virus and about the different patterns of transmission. We did have super-spreaders with another coronavirus, which was the SARS virus during the outbreak of that disease in the early part of the millennium. We haven't yet identified lots of people who are so-called super-spreaders in Australia, so we remain to see.
Victorian health authorities say that some people are refusing tests because they believe in conspiracy theories. Are you concerned by that?
I'm very concerned about anyone who is refusing to have a test, particularly where we have such high levels of community transmission. And as I've said, even if people don't have any symptoms, if they're in an area of community transmission, they may be affected and be asymptomatic and still be at risk of infecting other people. So, the more people that we can test, the more people in the wider community who are approached, have a test, yep, they're negative, they're OK, that will put everyone's mind at ease.
Is enough being done though to debunk some of those conspiracy theories out in the community, and particularly given perhaps the complex reasons that people might give for not wanting to be tested door to door?
Yes. Look, the single source of information and truth that I would recommend to people is the health.gov.au website. If you hear different theories and you're not sure about it, do a search, look at the Australian Government advice. This comes from the best experts we have from right across the country, based on the evidence from all around the world. Don't listen to the theories that you may be coming across on social media.
Is there a particular point at which you would recommend that mandatory testing be put in place? Perhaps, a particular percentage of people who are refusing tests?
I don't think so. Again, the decisions about testing in Victoria rest of course with the Victorian Government.
That's great. Any final questions? We're all good. Thank you. Thank you everybody, and thank you to our interpreters. Thank you very much.