Date published: 
28 June 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

28 June 2021

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Hello, my name is Professor Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, here to provide an update on the Commonwealth responses to the rapidly evolving situation in Australia and particularly in New South Wales. In 24 hours we've had 37 new cases of COVID-19 reported, 31 of these are locally acquired and six in return travellers in hotel quarantine. The Australian Health Protection Principle Committee has met today and has discussed the outbreaks in New South Wales and across the country. The Commonwealth will do all we can to support affected states and territories in their responses, we're all in this together. The New South Wales government is taking appropriate actions in response to this outbreak. The Commonwealth supports the actions underway in New South Wales. The Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly will today be expanding the Commonwealth hotspot designation to align with the regions identified by the New South Wales government. These being the greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong regions. This will bring in the enhanced Commonwealth supports the aged care facilities, the single worker, single-site payments, asymptomatic testing has been activated in Commonwealth funded general practice respiratory clinics right across the affected regions. If you are in an affected area in New South Wales, please check the New South Wales website regularly as new exposure sites are being identified and notified. Among the four reasons for being able to leave your home, if you're in the restricted areas, is to seek medical attention. And this includes getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and getting a COVID-19 test. We're also aware of the reported case of COVID-19 in a worker in a mining site in the Tanami Desert in central Australia. We're taking this very seriously. Right from the start of the pandemic, we've had plans in place to work with local Aboriginal communities to respond to outbreaks in remote areas in Australia. The Commonwealth is working with the Northern Territory government and the Aboriginal community controlled health services in the affected area to provide whatever support is needed. My main message today is to please follow the restrictions in your state or territory. If you are asked to wear a mask, please wear a mask. If you are asked to isolate, please isolate. If you're asked to go and get a test, please get a test. And, please, wherever you are in Australia, if you experience symptoms of cold or flu or fever, no matter how mild, please arrange to get tested for COVID-19.

A reminder that more than 7.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered across Australia. This includes over 5.8 million first doses. Which includes at least first doses of vaccines to more than 28 per cent of people aged 16 and above, to more than 50 per cent of people aged 50 and above, and more than 67 per cent of people aged 70 years and above. These are course the most vulnerable people, if infected with COVID-19. So thank you to everyone who is turning up to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when it is your turn. We know that these vaccinations prevent serious illness and risk of death and save lives. There will be an update on the vaccine rollout on Monday as usual. Thank you, I'm happy to take any questions.

 

 

QUESTION: 

Professor Kidd, has the recent outbreak and the consequent restrictions been involved prompted any reconsideration of the restriction on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 60? I understand that was a decision that was a decision that was made based on the kind of risk and reward calculation that existed at that time. Clearly that's now changed a lot.

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

So, we're still following the advice of ATAGI, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. ATAGI is meeting each week, and they'll be meeting during the current week again to provide advice to us on vaccines. But at the moment, the recommendations are on the aged base use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and Pfizer vaccine remain in force.

 

QUESTION: 

What day are they meeting on?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

They'll be meeting- I think on Wednesday during the coming week but we'll have to confirm that.

 

QUESTION: 

We, at the moment, have relatively low levels of full vaccination across the population. What is the level of vaccination that we need to get to such that we can stop having major lockdowns that affect many millions of people in major cities like Sydney?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

So the good news is, as I said, over 67 per cent of people aged 70 and above have now received a least the first dose of our vaccine against COVID-19, and of course, we are now about three weeks into people who've had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine starting to receive the second doses as well. So people are getting the full level of protection against COVID-19.

 

QUESTION: 

What is the reason why the Federal Government has waited until the New South Wales government has introduced health restrictions across all the greater Sydney rather than declaring those areas to be a Federal hotspot pre-emptively?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Thank you. So we work very closely with the relevant states and territories, and their health authorities. As I said, the AHPPC met today with the Chief Health Officer from New South Wales along with colleagues from right across the country. So we work hand in glove to these responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can I go to Stephanie on the phone?

 

QUESTION: 

Thank you. I just got two questions. The first regarding the decision made by the TGA with Johnson & Johnson about the provisional approval. Why isn't the Australian Government looking to get some of those vaccines as well?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

So, thanks for the question Stephanie. Yes, you're right, the TGA has released its information about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will become one of the vaccines utilised in Australia, is up for further discussions over the next week or so.

 

QUESTION: 

When you say up to further discussions, does that mean you're still open the idea? Of getting Johnson & Johnson vaccines for Australians?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

That decision will be based on the advice from the scientific and technical advisory group on vaccinations which provides advice to the Australian Government.

 

QUESTION: 

And just my second question, I'm sorry, in light of what we are seeing across greater Sydney and surrounds, will more vaccines be given to New South Wales? Because we saw a great uptake in Victoria when there was that outbreak, the real keenness to get vaccinated. Will you be sending more vaccines to Sydney specifically?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

Thank you. So, as you're aware, the National Cabinet discussed vaccine allocations at its meeting last Friday. But yes, of course, we are open to further discussions with New South Wales about the allocations of vaccines they are receiving.

Thanks Stephanie. Nick, did you have a final question?

 

QUESTION: 

On what date will Federal supports come into play for the greater Sydney region, that's now gone into lockdown?

 

MICHAEL KIDD:   

That comes into play as soon as the hotspot is announced, so that'll be coming to play from today.

That's great. Thank you for everybody and thank you to our interpreters. Thank you.

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