Date published: 
28 February 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

DAVID KOCH:

More now on the growing corona crisis. The Government is activating an emergency plan and warning Australians to prepare for the coronavirus to be declared a pandemic. There are confirmed cases in 47 countries around the world, with over 82,000 victims almost 2900 deaths.

In Australia, arrangements are in place to ensure we have adequate medical supplies across the country to treat the illness. The Prime Minister has also announced an extension of the China travel ban for another week.

For the latest, we're joined by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly. Paul, good to see you again.

Number of new cases outside China continues to exceed those within China. So, why doesn't the World Health Organization declare it a pandemic?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well you'd have to ask them that, Kochie, because the way we look at it and as the Prime Minister said yesterday, we're really at the next stage. So the rapid spread around the world and all continents other than Antarctica now, many new countries every day; that sounds like the p word to me.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay. Alright. So you think it is at pandemic levels right now. Now, is it fair to say that this is a new strain of flu, but the problem is there's no vaccine to it? And while the northern hemisphere is in flu season, we're not. We are in summer, ours is yet to come. So we've got to be really prepared for winter?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

We certainly do, Kochie, and we'll be very soon rolling out the flu vaccine for this year and lots of it. So very important that people protect themselves against flu whilst we are looking for this other virus which could be coming at us.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay. Will this flu vaccine that you're about to release, will it give us any sort of protection from coronavirus? Will it reduce our chances?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

No. Unfortunately it is a completely different virus.

DAVID KOCH:

Right.

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

So, the vaccine will not help there and there is, as you say, no vaccine at the moment for the coronavirus. So we're really relying on old-style public health measures - finding the cases, finding their contacts, making sure they get isolated from other people as soon as possible to prevent that infection spreading.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay. Queensland Uni expert, Professor Ian Mackay, is quoted as saying: it's likely at some point we're all going to get infected with the coronavirus. For most people it will be no worse than a bad cold. Is that the case?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well so far, we're knowing more about this virus every day, most of the information we have so far is from China. In China about 80 per cent of cases are mild but five per cent or so are very severe and there has been a death rate, as you know over 2000 people unfortunately have died.

So whilst for most of us it could be quite mild, for some it will be extremely severe and worrying.

DAVID KOCH:

Should we stop travelling overseas?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

There is no move to do that at the moment broadly. Although, as you know, for some time now in the last few weeks we've had an advice not travel to China. And also to increase people- the warning level from two out of four to take further caution in some other countries, most recently Italy, Iran, Mongolia, Japan and South Korea last week.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay. So check your smartraveler website. Thanks you for joining us.

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