Jul 7, 2020
Dan Andrews Press Conference Transcript as Melbourne Returns to Lockdown
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, held a press conference on July 7th announcing a return to lockdown restrictions for the Melbourne metro. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Dan Andrews: (00:01)
Speaker 1: (00:01)
Are there any changes to childcare?
Dan Andrews: (00:03)
Not that I’m announcing today, no.
Speaker 1: (00:06)
With the lockdown towers, you’ve said that the government would provide all and any support for those [inaudible 00:00:17] in those towers. But many residents weren’t given essential supplies and some of what was provided was out of date, insufficient, or culturally inappropriate, like pork for Muslim families. What’s gone so wrong here?
Dan Andrews: (00:24)
Well, I wouldn’t put it in those terms. I’d say to you that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of people that are doing the very best they can. This has never been done before. It’s not like there’s a handbook that you can turn to. There’s no how-to guide for this. And I can tell you, there are thousands of people down there doing everything they possibly can. We know and understand how challenging it is. And that’s why people are working every hour of every day, literally day night, to provide support to those families.
Dan Andrews: (00:51)
I think that whenever you set up an operation like this, and no one likes to receive advice to say, “You must lock these towers down and you must do it right now.” Of course, you’d always love to have a longer run up into that, but that would have put public health and indeed the personal safety of so many of those vulnerable families at real risk.
Dan Andrews: (01:11)
None of those arrangements are ideal. You’d much prefer not to have to be doing this, but I can assure you that every single effort is being made and that all of the people that are involved in that massive logistical task are doing the very, very best they can. I’m pleased to see that there is door to door testing really been ramped up today. The sooner we get those results, the sooner we can have new settings, a new and a much easier set of restrictions for those towers. Noting … noting that if our strategy is successful, then we will not see the virus run through all of those towers with not a few, but indeed the vast potentially majority of people in those towers testing positive.
Speaker 2: (02:00)
How many tests have been competed in the towers and how many more do you have to go before-
Dan Andrews: (02:00)
[Lundy 00:02:00], I’ll get an update tonight. Obviously you always do more the second day than the first and these things do, they get to scale and then they really start to ramp up from there. But there’s certainly many hundreds of people, not all clinical staff, there are teams that are going out floor by floor and door by door to do that important testing. As soon as we can get that testing done, then we’ll be in a position to assess the data and to make a new set of rules for those towers.
Dan Andrews: (02:24)
That’s the strategy, that’s our plan. Five days was the … the orders made for 14. I want it to be much less than that. It is still our aim to be five days. That’s our aim. Whether we can, to the hour, get that done is yet to be seen.
Dan Andrews: (02:40)
But I wouldn’t want anybody in the towers today to be in any doubt. You will be under these restrictions for not one moment longer than you need to be. And the best thing to do is to get tested when someone knocks on your door. And that does take some time. It needs to be done properly with all the infection control protocols. But my last report, which was only an hour or so ago, is that those teams are out there and they’re working very, very hard.
Speaker 2: (03:04)
Premier, six weeks, [inaudible 00:03:05]?
Dan Andrews: (03:06)
If their numbers drop off, will you be able to bring it off earlier or [crosstalk 00:03:11]-
Dan Andrews: (03:12)
Rich, I want to be-
… [crosstalk 00:03:13].
Dan Andrews: (03:14)
Yeah. Yeah. I want to be really clear with you and with every single Victorian. We could have gone for a shorter period, but the advice is, and it’s a genuine choice. You can go shorter and then potentially have to extend it out. But given that people would obviously want some notice, just as there’s the rest of today and tomorrow up until midnight before these restrictions occur. If I said four weeks, then you guys are going to be asking me on the Sunday before the fourth week, so at the end of the third week, “What’s happening in a week.” Three weeks is not enough data. The life cycle of this virus is about the 14 day period.
Dan Andrews: (03:50)
Obviously the six weeks means we have three of those full cycles. And if you were starting to see stability and low numbers, then we’d have much greater confidence that those were real numbers that rather than a false sense that the virus was not there anymore, or that it was at such low levels that a suppression strategy would be able to work.
Did Victoria ease restrictions to soon or is this a result of [inaudible 00:04:12] to the virus [inaudible 00:04:14]?
Dan Andrews: (04:14)
Well, there’s a couple of points. We’ve been roundly criticized for not letting off restrictions faster. So I don’t know that that would be the case.
But, no, [inaudible 00:04:21], that aside, did you ease restrictions [crosstalk 00:04:24]-
Dan Andrews: (04:24)
No, I don’t believe so, no. [inaudible 00:04:26].
Speaker 3: (04:25)
When you shut down-
Dan Andrews: (04:29)
Sorry. Well, no, no. Let me just finish. You put two things to me. There of course could be a third and the fourth. There are mysteries in this thing. Sometimes you’ll never know where things came from. That’s the nature of something that’s so wildly infectious. There’s a process to look at the first issues you raised. In terms of restrictions, these are national cabinet decisions. I think we were probably more cautious than some. So I wouldn’t see that as I contributing factor.
Dan Andrews: (04:55)
Again, I’m not here to criticize Victorians, I’m not here to be lecturing Victorians. But I’ve got to call it out, and I think every Victorian knows at least one other person who perhaps hasn’t been following the rules as much as they should have. We have to a certain extent allowed our frustration to get the better of us. And that means that regardless of what the index case is, regardless of who patient zero is and how they became infected, the virus then spreads.
Dan Andrews: (05:22)
And I’ll take you back to an example. A person gets infected, they’re in a family of six or seven or eight, or even 10 people. They then go home. They’re unwell. They don’t get tested for quite some time. They’re wildly infectious. They go and visit other families. Small, large, North, South. Doesn’t matter where it happened, but all of a sudden you’ve got the virus out there and it runs so quickly that even the delay in taking a test and getting it processed is enough to see a doubling and a doubling again. So what starts with one person is in the space of a couple of days, something that is well and truly away with 50 75, 100 people.
Dan Andrews: (06:02)
That’s what we’re up against. And the mildness of it, that’s the real devil to it. The fact that so many people can have it and not even feel unwell. Or if they do, the symptoms are so mild that they’re not a prompt to go and get tested. Ultimately, we have to take this as seriously as we take bushfire. We can’t … this is binary. It is life and death. And if it gets away from us … and I just don’t want to hear any more of this stuff from younger people or from otherwise healthy people, regardless of their age, that it won’t affect me. Well, it will. It’ll affect you. There are people across the world who have died, who were otherwise healthy. And not one or two, very significant numbers.
Dan Andrews: (06:44)
Then of course, all of us are part of families, and loved ones being gravely ill and potentially dying, that’ll affect you too. And the restrictions will affect you of course. So it’s not about singling out one group. I think there’s been some complacency. There’s been a sense of frustration, and I get that, I understand that. I’m not really criticizing it. I understand it, but it has to change. It just has to change.
You’re blaming community behavior, but at the same time, this is coming from [inaudible 00:07:13] that’s been identified. So isn’t there some responsibility there?
Dan Andrews: (07:16)
Well, and no one has moved away from accepting responsibility on that basis. But as you know, Rich, we’ve got a process and we’ll let that run its course.
Dan Andrews: (07:24)
To your other issue about trying to get one answer, and to kind of deal with the riddles that this virus often throws up at you, there’ll be further genomics done. We don’t have a genomic picture, which does give you a further sense of things. That’s by no means a complete picture. There’s some time taken to do that.
Dan Andrews: (07:46)
Ultimately, I suppose we can focus on how it is we got to this position. We could pretend that we’re not here, or we can just all work together and work really, really hard to get this job done. And part of that will be a team, thousands of people in my team, working extremely hard in lots of different ways, and hopefully millions of Victorians accepting and understanding that this is really serious and it’s not over. And the rules are there for your safety and for the safety of others. Every Victorian family benefits when each Victorian family does the right thing.
Dan Andrews: (08:25)
That’s what these next six weeks have got to be about. And when we get to the other side of that six weeks … and I know that seems a long way off … but when we get to the other side of that, then we’re going to, all of us, have to recommit ourselves as we open up to that sense of vigilance, to that sense of being just as serious after a lockdown as we are during.
Speaker 4: (08:47)
Is there an indication in the numbers today, and indeed yesterday, of how many of these cases are in the hot zones and how many are outside?
Dan Andrews: (08:55)
There’s still a concentration, whether it be in hot postcodes or adjacent postcodes. So if you look at it more as a corridor, there’s still a significant representation there. But as we said before, we’ll be able to provide some more data, particularly as we move into tomorrow. We’ve seen significant further cases, whether they linked, that’s a matter of the investigation process. But we’re certainly seeing other postcards right across metropolitan Melbourne that have got cases.
Dan Andrews: (09:24)
So you’ve then got to assume if you’re finding even small numbers, there’s more there, particularly given patterns of movement and the mere fact that we’ve got so many close contacts to deal with. You get to that tipping point where you say, “Look, we could kid ourselves that we can pull this up, that we can do a thousand cases a day.” Ultimately, we can’t do a thousand cases a day. We’re nowhere near that number. If we could, then of course we would not spare any expense. We would have all the staff that we needed and we wouldn’t have to be shutting down businesses and sending people back to their home-
Dan Andrews: (10:03)
And we wouldn’t have to be shutting down businesses and sending people back to their homes. If I could achieve that, of course, that’s what we would do. But the science tells us that that simply won’t work.
Speaker 5: (10:09)
So is contact tracing still working, and to what effect?
Dan Andrews: (10:13)
Well contact tracing will always be important, no matter what rules you have in place, but you do get to a point, and again, this is not a criticism, they’re doing an amazing job. I’m very, very proud of them. There are many thousands of people and I’m very grateful to other states who’ve lent some of their most experienced people to us to lead teams of others. Contextualizing will always be important. And we will see, this is just a matter of logic. We will see more cases tomorrow and more cases the day after. This will get worse before it gets better. It’ll get up a peak and then we’ll try and flatten that, we will try and drive those numbers down. That’s where we find ourselves not where anyone wanted to be, but it’s the reality of our circumstances.
Dan Andrews: (10:54)
And none of us can afford to ignore it, whether you’re in my position or you’re a hard working citizen are out in the suburbs of Melbourne, you’ve got a part to play too. Don’t go out if you’re sick, get tested if you’re sick, the rules are there for you and your family and every family. And that means you have to follow.
Speaker 6: (11:10)
When you shut down-
Speaker 7: (11:12)
[inaudible 00:11:12] Melbourne, given [inaudible 00:11:13].
Dan Andrews: (11:16)
Monetary financials included in metropolitan Melbourne, [inaudible 00:11:19] is not. We’ll get you the full boundaries, but I think we’ve given you the postcodes but the Department of Environment have very well understood boundary, [inaudible 00:01:28], Mitchell Shar is included in this also.
Speaker 7: (11:31)
And do these restrictions, the school, the school holidays, [inaudible 00:01:35]-
Dan Andrews: (11:36)
No, only for metropolitan Melbourne.
Speaker 7: (11:38)
So regional schools, everyone will go back to school-
Dan Andrews: (11:40)
It’s business as usual in regional Victoria and that was the key point. We didn’t want a situation where we had, for instance, you had 12 students. We didn’t want your 12 students to be in two fundamentally different positions, those in metropolitan Melbourne, those is regional areas.
Dan Andrews: (11:59)
The exact nature of that at any targeted support that might be required beyond that, I think if you would recall when we announced the initial $5,000 grant, we certainly didn’t rule out doing more. So there has been some time pass between that original decision and where we are now. So the treasurer and the minister for Industry Support and Recovery is they’re doing a pair of work at the moment. And we’ll have some further announces to make very soon.
Speaker 8: (12:23)
Have you done any modeling of what the [inaudible 00:12:27] down, what impact that will have on the state?
Dan Andrews: (12:31)
Not on the economy at this stage, no. We know that we’re in for a very difficult time. Ultimately the public health response has to lead. And then we provide the support, the stimulus to try and repair the economic damage of this virus is doing to the entire economy, families. But that’s significant of course, but life is more important and not having that tragedy visited on any more families than we possibly can. That’s what’s driving all of us.
Speaker 9: (13:05)
[inaudible 00:13:05] on the skills framework,
Speaker 10: (13:06)
Exceptionally emotionally taxing, and very onerous for people. There’s one question, are you sorry to Victorians?
Dan Andrews: (13:17)
I’m very sorry that we find ourselves in this position. I would just with the greatest of respect, put it to you though that getting this virus and dying from it is very onerous to. This is challenging. I get it. I know that. I understand that. I didn’t want to be in this position, no Victorian does, but let’s not see this as simply an inconvenience. It’s much more than that. It’s a pandemic and it will kill thousands of people if it gets completely away from us. And that’ll be more than inconvenient, that’ll be tragic. We don’t want that. We can avoid that, but we all have a part to play in that.
Speaker 11: (13:50)
Given there were cases at H&M was consideration [inaudible 00:00:13:53]?
Dan Andrews: (13:59)
Well, we have seen outbreaks in lots of different settings. They’re all managed on an individual basis and I don’t think any two outbreaks are the same. There’ll always be unique features in terms of the type of business, the physical space that you’re dealing with, patterns of movement, all of those things. So they’re all treated on their merits and there’s a well and truly understood list of infection control protocols, as well as an outbreak response that has some consistent features, but then applies logic and apply science and best practice to the individual circumstances.
Speaker 12: (14:30)
Just on the school’s premiere, just to clarify.
Dan Andrews: (14:32)
Speaker 12: (14:33)
For the Metropolitan schools, [inaudible 00:14:35] 11s and 12s aside and special schools, they could be moving back to home learning.
Dan Andrews: (14:39)
Absolutely. They could be. I’m not in a position to confirm those arrangements now. That’s why there’s an extension of the school holidays to give us time and to give parents some certainly that there will be sufficient notice. I know that’s a very significant step to have to go back to learning from home. I would just say that that won’t be an easy decision to make it won’t be done flippantly. It’ll be a lot of data. A lot of thinking, there’s already been a lot of thinking going into it. To this point when we’re not quite ready to be able to make that call. Because we know how impactful, how serious that that is. We did want to get our 11s and 12s and our special needs kids that are at special schools back to school on Monday that will happen. We think that is the right balance to strike some additional pupil free days where teachers will be at work, there’ll be supervision and a holiday activity for those who have to come to school because mom and dad are at work, but that extra time I think will be invaluable to us.
Dan Andrews: (15:32)
And as soon as we can confirm our plans with parents and with school communities, we will.
Speaker 13: (15:38)
[inaudible 00:15:38] just on the schools, if I could, have you been concerned [inaudible 00:15:40] at how many of the recent outbreaks have been linked to school communities? You’ve had several primary schools and Al Taqwa College. Is that a big concern and surprise for you?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (15:50)
I’ve certainly a bit surprised at how much we saw in schools in terms of cases. I think it was a measure of how much transmission going on around those schools. It was certainly the case that the great majority of cases that turned up in those schools were from kids who’d acquired it at home or acquired outside of school and then be subsequently identified. And the schools closed as a result. Al-Taqwa College is probably a different example. There seems to have been transmission in the school that was quite substantial. They are older kids. They tend to have more transmission that’s akin to adults if they’re not doing the physical distancing appropriately. And so that’s been a big cluster in terms of schools.
Speaker 13: (16:36)
So given that older kids, you’re comfortable with year 11s and 12s going back to the classroom?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (16:41)
If schools implement and if those kids do the right thing in terms of the physical distancing and a genuine understanding of their individual responsibility to keep a space and to exclude themselves from school when unwell, I think it’s absolutely manageable.
Speaker 13: (16:57)
It’s that asking a lot though?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (16:59)
We’re asking everyone a lot and it is asking a lot for a year 11 and 12. I think they will reflect on the importance of their education in a face to face setting, as well as they go into a really important years of school.
Speaker 14: (17:12)
Can you just explain that the difference in the public health team having to deal with these types of cases, which are coming up in a community more so than the first wave of cases. How much more onerous is that on contract tracing and [inaudible 00:07:28]? How is it holding up?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (17:31)
Look, it’s not dissimilar in many ways to what we went through in the first way. If we still have to respond to those positive tests that we get back, I get the details from every individual about when they first became symptomatic, take that period of 48 hours beforehand, find all of the close contacts from that 48 hours before right through their infectious period when they weren’t isolated.
Prof. Brett Sutton: (17:52)
It’s been very challenging in terms of the rapid increase in numbers that’s been faster than in wave one. And in many respects, it’s faster than in some other waves across the world. I think that’s a measure of some of the social disadvantage that’s been intersecting with the transmission in this wave.
Speaker 14: (18:14)
Is there a reluctance for people to provide all the information they need to?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (18:17)
No, I think we’re getting the close contact details pretty well. It does become more and more challenging, the greater number of cases that you have to get all of those close contacts. We do have automated systems to let close contacts know that they need to remain in quarantine, but we do want to go through a day by day checking for all of those close contacts in quarantine to make sure they’re doing the right thing, to make sure they’ve got a symptom check, and to make sure they’re getting tested if they develop symptoms. And so as the numbers increase, that becomes more and more of a pressure point.
Speaker 15: (18:51)
Have you done any more genetic testing and you established how this got the high rise towers?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (18:57)
I don’t think the genomics will tell us how it got into the high rise towers. We will obviously ask all of those individuals in the high rise towers who their close contacts are, where they’ve been in the previous days. But the reality is there’s a significant network that all of us have with our friends and extended families, and if we haven’t stayed at home, by and large, there are lots of opportunities for entry into new settings. And I think the community cases that were out in those postcodes have been connected to some of the residents in those high rise settings.
Speaker 16: (19:32)
Going back to Al-Taqwa College, it’s gone from the first case they notified eight days ago to 90 cases today. Do you suspect that there’d been a [inaudible 00:19:40] of transmission going on there before you learned about the first case?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (19:44)
Yeah, I think it’s entirely possible that especially with kids, again, they can get very mild illness. We know that they don’t test as frequently with mild illness, the general population doesn’t test as frequently with mild illness as with more severe illness. It’s another reminder that just that runny nose, that sore throat, or-
Dan Andrews: (20:03)
… just that runny nose, that sore throat, or shortness of breath, not just cough or fever, should prompt anyone to isolate, to get tested, so that we can follow up all those close contacts. Because if you’re moving around in a setting where you’re in close contact with lots of other people, they will become infected and you can get that explosive increase.
How many close contacts are you dealing with in that cluster?
Dan Andrews: (20:26)
Well, we’re essentially treating all of the teachers and all of the students as close contacts. And so we’ve asked them all to quarantine for that reason.
So, that’s 2,300 people roughly?
Dan Andrews: (20:35)
Can you clarify if …
Just in terms of … You go, Jody.
Sorry. Just a quick question. Can you clarify whether elective surgeries will go ahead as one of the four reasons to leave home?
Dan Andrews: (20:43)
I’m not sure. The Minister might have something to say?
Speaker 17: (20:45)
I’ll get that one. I mean, sorry. The Health Minister can do that.
Jenny Mikakos: (20:49)
Thank you. Look, that’s a really important question. As was the case previously with the stay-at-home directions, seeking and receiving helpful medical care is a permissible reason to leave home. So, if you’re booked in for elective surgery, that surgery will likely be able to continue. Similarly, if you need to go and see your GP, you can continue to do that. Of course, you can speak to your GP using telehealth in many circumstances.
Jenny Mikakos: (21:16)
So, I do want to encourage members of the Victorian community to not neglect their health needs. We did see a tapering off of presentations to our emergency departments and calls to 000 during the earlier stage three restrictions. It’s really important that the community understands that our hospitals are safe to attend to, that it is important that people get all the medical care that they need, and that includes also presenting for cancer screening and other urgent medical care.
Just only on the testing front, how much testing has been going on in the last couple of weeks outside this new restricted zone? So how much are we actually confident that there is no virus there? Particularly places like [Shepardon 00:22:01] with the multi-cultural tourism.
Dan Andrews: (22:03)
We have test sites, more than 100 of them across the state. There’s been a focus, as you would expect and as is appropriate, into those hot postcodes, but there’s been significant testing going on right across the whole state. I think I made the comment some time ago now that we had to have, whether it be sentinel testing, or widespread testing across regional Victoria, across the whole state, so that we’re trying to have the most complete picture.
Dan Andrews: (22:29)
Now, most of that and the testing that’s of most value is when people have got symptoms, and there’ll be some communities where there are less and less people that are presenting with symptoms because there’s less virus there. We know that in some communities there is in fact none. But, Rich, I wouldn’t want anyone to be concerned that we’ve been concentrating in one area and not doing testing in a broader sense to give us that kind of surveillance picture.
Dan Andrews: (22:54)
We have been doing that. That’s why we’re doing more testing than ever before when we grew our capacity with the support and assistance of a number of other states, and I again, thank them for giving us some of the laboratory capacity that was central to getting to what is absolutely a daily record of 26,554 tests yesterday.
Governor, can we get some more details, please, on how are we’re going to police those hard boundaries you talked about? Going to be a lot of practical difficulties there.
Dan Andrews: (23:24)
There’s a range of important operational matters that Shane Patton and his team, with support from the IDF, will have to work through. Confident they’ve already done quite a lot of planning to be ready for this in recent days. We always knew this was something that it was a chance, and that I think we’ve been pretty clear with people that if we continue to see unacceptably high numbers of new cases, and particularly community transmission, that this day would come.
Dan Andrews: (23:50)
As I said before, it won’t be a hard checkpoint where every single vehicle, or every single passenger will be pulled over and asked, but we’ll use technology. We have a number of number plate recognition software programs that we can use that tells police where the car is from. There’ll be random stoppages, booze bus-type, not every vehicle, but much like it’s operated, and I think, police have done a mighty job in the last week or so in those 12 postcodes, that’ll now operate at that interface point, the boundary point.
Dan Andrews: (24:23)
There’ll be more detail we can give you once all that planning is finalized. No, but I’m very grateful to the Prime Minister, those 260, around 260, ADF staff that’ll be in the state control center at staging points, providing support, very practical support, to Victorian law enforcement who will be doing those checks. That makes a big task just a little bit easier.
There’s a lot of families who are currently away in regional Victoria …
Dan Andrews: (24:48)
… on school holidays. Do they need to return for closing up tomorrow?
Dan Andrews: (24:53)
No, they’ll be able to complete their holiday, but no one will be able to go on holiday from metropolitan Melbourne because leaving your home for the purposes of a holiday is not one of the four permitted reasons.
Last week, you said that the hotel quarantine in Lake City accounted for a significant portion of the new cases. Is that still the case? Do we have any updated information? Or are these new cases still linked to that?
Dan Andrews: (25:13)
There’s no further information that I can provide to you. When I can, then of course we would.
On a slightly different issue, Police Minister David Elliott said it would be the decent thing to do, and that’s a quote, for Victoria to pay for border closure. What are your thoughts on this?
Dan Andrews: (25:30)
I don’t know the New South Wales police minister and I have no interest, and I simply don’t have time to be getting into an argument with him. He’s made those comments. I deal with the Premier of New South Wales, not her ministers, and I’ll speak with Gladys about that issue. She certainly hasn’t raised that with me.
There’s a bit of anger in the community this time around at the situation we find ourselves in, and a lot of that’s directed at your government, given, I guess, the hope of quarantine situation. How are you going to bring the community [inaudible 00:25:57] given what you’re asking them to do again, and we’ve all been there and it’s frustrating.
Dan Andrews: (26:03)
Sure, there’s no doubt that it’s frustrating.
Dan Andrews: (26:05)
There’s no doubt that it’s frustrating, Lundy. And if you could pass a law to deal with this, you just would. If you could ignore it, then that would be an option. That’s not an option. This is real, and we’re in we’re in this position. We can’t change many things. All we can do is change our behavior. All we can do is remember that this doesn’t discriminate based on age or postcode. It doesn’t discriminate based on faith. It doesn’t discriminate based on anything.
Dan Andrews: (26:35)
This virus is wildly infectious, and young and old, healthy, and otherwise ill will finish up by casualty in this if we don’t all, all of us, every one of us, take this as seriously as we need to. And that is to not let our frustration get the better of us, and I appreciate no one is pleased to be in these arrangements, no one. No one’s pleased to be in the position we’re in, but it is not an option to refuse to accept the reality we face. It’s not an option of just passing a law or giving a speech.
Dan Andrews: (27:11)
We’ve all got to own this at a very personal level because each of us, in the way we conduct ourselves, and the way we protect our family can, in turn, protect every Victorian family. That’s what’s at stake here. I understand. I appreciate. I get it very clearly. No one enjoys these restrictions and I don’t enjoy having to impose them, Lundy. I never have.
Just a question for Brett. What is the current state of how many, I know Rachel asked about how are close contacts being monitored, but I’ll talk a bit generally. How many are you looking at?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (27:49)
It’s over 5,000 close contacts. So, you can genuinely take the number of active cases, multiply it by seven, eight, nine, and you get a figure for the plus contacts that we’re looking at.
Premier, just with the …
Dan Andrews: (28:05)
I’ll just pull you off that, but that just gives you a sense that even though it’s a massive team and they’re all working literally, [inaudible 00:08:12], but you do get to a point. Grant made the point in the last question about are there enough people? You do get to a point where you just can’t find enough people to manage a group that’s doubling and doubling again. That’s not just the positive cases, but all their friends, all their family, everybody that they’ve spent time with. It gets to a point where you’re just, you can’t have confidence that you’re actually finding everybody and putting your arms around them and pulling it up. You can’t have that confidence, and that’s the position where we might not quite be there, but we’re very, very close.
In terms of people who are sick, particularly in the towers, have you considered moving them to the Peter Mac, the old Peter Mac, which you spent hundreds of millions of dollars getting ready for a wave, is that something that’s on the cards?
Dan Andrews: (29:00)
No, it wasn’t quite that much money, but we did, you’re right, but we did spend some money there.
Well, several. Sorry.
Dan Andrews: (29:03)
That’s a no-regret spend though. There’s a lot of different things we can do with that space, lots of different things we can do.
Is that something?
Dan Andrews: (29:11)
What I’ll say is this: Those matters are not settled yet. We’ve got to get the testing done first. It just stands to reason we have to know how many people in the towers have got it, then we have to have a sense of how it’s presenting, and some, it will be mild. But they might live, for instance, with somebody who’s got a whole range of underlying health conditions, and it’s not safe for them to quarantine at home with an elderly relative.
So are they being separated at the moment, those 70 people?
Dan Andrews: (29:37)
The key point is that anyone who tests positive is treated differently, and if there are particular vulnerabilities in their household, then the public health team tries as best as they can to be able to respond to that. Once we get the testing done, and it won’t just be at the end. It’s as we move through and as we get results, we’ll put in place the most appropriate public health policy, but also the most important, the most appropriate care framework for each and every one of those …
Dan Andrews: (30:03)
The most appropriate care framework for each and every one of those families.
Speaker 18: (30:04)
We’ve got seven active cases in the Mitchell Shire at the moment. If other regional shires, or local government areas reach similar levels of active cases, will they be included in the lockdown. And conversely, if Mitchell gets those under control, will they be excluded earlier than this place.
Dan Andrews: (30:23)
I’m not in the position to be able to forecast, or even countenance the notion I of anyone coming out of this earlier than the six weeks. I think we need to prepare ourselves and ready ourselves for that being, the timeline. That is in the judgment of our public health team, a long enough period to bring some stability, but also have confidence that the numbers we’re getting at that point, were in fact, a real set of numbers.
Dan Andrews: (30:48)
On the issue of would another local government area be added in, I would just say the Mitchell Shire circumstances are quite unique, given that they have a whole range of peri-urban, or they’re obviously on what used to be the metropolitan boundary many, many years ago. That means that they are unique. They’re not like a regional community that’s 150 kilometers away from the edge of Melbourne. They’re right on the edge of Melbourne.
Speaker 18: (31:17)
People commute from Geelong [crosstalk 00:31:19]
Dan Andrews: (31:18)
They do. I should also mention to you that some practical measures, and again, we’ll be out again tomorrow talking through, not doubt there’ll be a whole range of questions and issues that we’ll take you through. But to give you an example, given that you raised such along, it will not be a permitted reason, will not be lawful for somebody from say Mulgrave, where I live, to travel to Geelong, to go and have dinner. And if I did that, I would be asked by any and all venues I tried to present to, to provide ID just like they take name and phone numbers now. The notion of ID to determine that you are local and not from Melbourne, that will become a feature of the way those restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, the food service parts of pubs, that’s how they’ll have to operate.
Dan Andrews: (32:04)
The exercise thing, I know, may be a bit counterintuitive, but we just can’t have people moving unnecessarily. Work is one thing. If you can’t work from home, caregiving, that’s obviously different. The most discretionary of those four reasons is in fact going for what should be daily exercise. It’s not an opportunity to run a marathon, or to be doing a five, six hour hike, hundreds of kilometers away from home, hundreds of kilometers into Regional Victoria, where they aren’t cases. Even if you were to follow all the rules when you were there, if you’ve got the virus, it’ll travel with you, it’s just an unacceptable risk.
Speaker 19: (32:40)
[inaudible 00:32:40] one more. All of this is still going on under the auspices of Emergency Management Victoria, is that correct?
Dan Andrews: (32:49)
Their role is unchanged. They’ve got a particular focus in relation to the towers and the massive tasks that’s being delivered down there, but they always unchanged.
Speaker 20: (33:06)
Do you know of any other cases in Melbourne [inaudible 00:33:06] Are they being tested everyday?
Dan Andrews: (33:08)
I’m not sure about the exact protocol. And I don’t believe we’ve got any other information to give you on positives on infection control. Brett might be able to speak to that. The testing regime for workers.
Prof. Brett Sutton: (33:22)
Certainly we’re ramping up the review and the support for infection prevention and control in all of those settings that are akin to high rise towers. Even medium density settings, where we know that awareness about testing, awareness about hand hygiene and cough, etiquette and physical distancing needs to be absolutely maximized. That’s been ramped up.
Prof. Brett Sutton: (33:44)
We have had the odd case in other settings, not similar to the towers of Flemington and North Melbourne, but some lower rise towers. And sometimes we’ve had an individual case, but there’s no evidence that there’s transmission within the towers. I think it was the evidence that there was transmission within the towers that really sets the alarm bells for us, because it means that all of those residents are at risk.
Speaker 21: (34:08)
And Brett, should people be wearing masks now that we’re in this climate, I guess. I know at Children’s Hospital, I think they’re telling the staff to wear mask at all times. Is that something [crosstalk 00:34:16].
Prof. Brett Sutton: (34:16)
Yeah, certain certainly in health settings, it’s a reasonable measure. HPPC has made statements on masks. I think they’re statements that I support, which is really that where community transmission isn’t negligible, that masks a reasonable thing to wear where you can’t physically distance, but we’re working up some communication materials. And I’ll have more to say on that in coming days.
Speaker 22: (34:45)
Brett, I just want to ask you as well, are you aware of any close contacts prior to the COVIDSafe app?
Prof. Brett Sutton: (34:48)
I’m not. As I’ve said before, the COVIDSafe app is of greatest utility if you’re amongst strangers who you wouldn’t normally identify as household members, as friends, as family members who you visited. Because most people are still only visiting those closer contacts that they’re familiar with and have the details of them. The COVIDSafe app isn’t providing that additional information.
Prof. Brett Sutton: (35:12)
I’m sure if there were a case to pop up in other parts of Australia where there’s much more mingling with strangers, where pubs and clubs are open, the COVIDSafe app would ping some strangers who are not known to a positive case. It’s definitely gotten utility and I think it’s something that everyone should download, but we’re in a situation where the close contacts that we’re identifying are those that are already known to the individual.
Speaker 23: (35:38)
Any other issues? [crosstalk 00:05:45].
Dan Andrews: (35:48)
You won’t make me regret one additional question? Yes.
Speaker 23: (35:55)
Given that previously it was announced the hotel quarantine system will be suspended for two weeks, essentially and all the other states, not Victoria while we sort stuff out as far as that goes.
Dan Andrews: (36:07)
Speaker 23: (36:08)
Given the exponential rise of cases in Melbourne, is it still the plan to resume hotel quarantine in Melbourne for travelers, or is that not really something that Victoria is comfortable handling?
Dan Andrews: (36:20)
I think that our focus is appropriately on dealing with extra cases, dealing with outbreaks and doing everything we can to enforce those lockdowns and make sure that they work. That is our focus. Out of respect for some conversations I’ve not yet had with the prime minister, I won’t go any further than that, but we may not be in a position to be able to resume at the end of this two week course.
Dan Andrews: (36:45)
But I’m sure you’ll allow me the opportunity to have that conversation with the prime minister first.
Speaker 24: (36:50)
Just on the prime minister even with back down. Any chats around extending job seeker, job keeper payments to Victorians?
Dan Andrews: (36:57)
I had a conversation with the prime minister just before we came to this media event today. And I’m very confident that the prime minister knows and understands that there will be different forms of hardship in different parts of the country, different industries, different sectors. I’m confident the prime minister knows that and that he and his colleagues are looking to design whatever the next series of decisions that they make, whatever those new, or different policy settings are. I think he’s going to be guided by that hardship, just as we are.
Dan Andrews: (37:27)
Where there’s hardship, you’ve got to have a response that’s appropriate to that. And that means that you’ve got a set of policies, a set of tools that where they’re needed most, they’ll make the most difference. And that may well be, given our circumstances, that may well be of additional benefit, because we have additional need now and of course, into the future. If there’s no other issues, I’ll see you tomorrow. Thank you.