Date published: 
18 November 2020
Media event date: 
17 November 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

LISA MILLAR:

Well, let's stay with the COVID situation and we'll look at what's happening in South Australia with the Deputy Chief Health Officer, Michael Kidd, who is in Canberra. Good morning, Michael Kidd. Thanks for coming on Breakfast.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Good morning. Thank you.

LISA MILLAR:

So, it sounds like- we've heard from the South Australian Premier this morning. He's spoken in Adelaide, saying that they've had one new case confirmed overnight. So, that seems to bring to about 20 probable or positive cases. How much bigger is this cluster going to get, do you think?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, that's what we're going to find out over the next 24 to 48 hours. At the moment, we're seeing the health authorities in South Australia doing a terrific job, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone who's been diagnosed with COVID-19, arranging to get people tested, arranging for people to go into isolation while they're waiting for their results. And a big thank you to everybody in Adelaide who's been queuing up to get tested yesterday, and I'm sure there’ll be queues today for people waiting to get tested for COVID-19.

LISA MILLAR:

PK asked the South Australian Health Minister earlier about mandating the use of masks more widely. Do we just need to come to grips with that? Is- that is something that just needs to be done throughout Australia if we see these hot spots?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. Look, when we get outbreaks like we've seen in South Australia - and we do expect to get further outbreaks over time as the pandemic continues around the world - there will be times when it will be very wise for people to be wearing masks, and particularly people who are at increased risk if they were to be infected with COVID-19. So, the recommendation in Adelaide at the moment is for people who are vulnerable to stay at home while it is determined exactly what's happening with the outbreak, whether there has been any community transmission or not. And if people do leave their homes and they're particularly vulnerable, to wear a mask, especially if they're going on public transport or into situations where they may not be able to physically distance from other people.

LISA MILLAR:

Because the numbers are just spiralling upward overseas, we are seeing more and more cases in hotel quarantine in Australia. And Nicola Spurrier, the Health Officer in South Australia, was saying that was one of the things that had concerned her. Should there be regular testing of staff at those hotels? Should there have been more testing?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. So, you're exactly right. In Australia, of course, we now have very little, if any, community transmission anywhere else in the country, apart from the investigations which are under way now in Adelaide. But there is the pandemic raging out of control, sadly, in a number of countries around the world. And, of course, there are still people coming back into Australia, both Australians returning from overseas, but also people coming in, bringing in goods to Australia and taking our goods to the rest of the world. So, we’re still in contact with the rest of the world, and there is still the risk of people with COVID-19 coming into Australia.

As you know, Professor Jane Halton has just completed a review of hotel quarantine procedures right across Australia and has made a number of recommendations to the National Cabinet. The AHPPC has been looking at those recommendations and looking to see whether we need to strengthen any of the measures, which, of course, may include the regular testing of those people who are working in the hotel quarantine settings across the country; the infection prevention and control measures which are in place in all of those settings; the deep cleaning; the measures in place to not only protect the staff but also to protect the people who are coming in to hotel quarantine, to make sure we're not getting transmission between the people who’ve arrived back in Australia.

LISA MILLAR:

Is the swift closure of borders after a case like this what we need to accept as living with COVID? Or is it an overreaction, as some people have suggested?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, each state and territory is making their own decision about ...

LISA MILLAR:

[Talks over] But are they a health decision?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Whether to keep their borders open or closed. These are decisions which are being made often with the advice of the chief health officers in the states and territories about looking to see what needs to be done to protect the population in each of those states and territories. So, I think at the moment we are waiting to see whether the cases in South Australia have gone beyond the workers and their immediate household contacts, and whether we've actually seen any community transmission occur. We hope that that hasn't happened. And we hope that we'll pick that up and have a much clearer view over the next day or so.

LISA MILLAR:

But Michael Kidd, if this is the approach that's going to be taken, how do people confidently plan holidays or make travel arrangements, especially as no doubt so many families are thinking about how they’re going to spend Christmas? Do they need to just rethink going anywhere?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, I think that's a really good question, and I'm sure it's front of mind for many people across Australia who have been planning for families to come together for the first time this year across state borders. Families are planning to travel during the holiday period. And now some of those plans look like they're going to be disrupted. Unfortunately, we are living in a global pandemic, and this has disrupted our lives this year in ways that we could never have imagined. Unfortunately, there are likely to be further disruptions ahead.

LISA MILLAR: 

Michael Kidd, thank you for your time.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Thank you.                                

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