Aug 18, 2020
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews Press Conference Transcript August 18
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, held a press conference on August 18 about the COVID-19 outbreak. He urged Victorians to get tested and that the lockdown won’t ease if testing rates continue to drop. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Premier Daniel Andrews: (00:00)
… it’s 222 new cases since our update yesterday. I’m saddened to have to update you that there are now 334 Victorians who have passed away as a result of this global pandemic. That’s an increase of 17 since yesterday. Of course, our thoughts and best wishes, our prayers are with the families of those 17 Victorians. This’ll be an incredibly difficult time for them. And we send our best wishes to them. By way of detail, I can confirm one male in their 60s, one female and one male in their 70s, two females and four males in their 80s, four females and four males in their 90s. 13 of those 17 are linked to aged care outbreaks.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (00:46)
There are 665 Victorians who are in hospital. 45 of those are in intensive care. And 32 of those 45 are on a ventilator. A total of 1,992,725 tests have been received. That’s 17,695 test results that have been processed since yesterday. And I’ll come back to testing in just a moment. There are 3,669 cases with an unknown source, an increase of 43 since yesterday’s report. There are some 1,036 healthcare workers who are active cases. There are 2,024 active cases in aged care settings, and a total of 7,274 active cases across the state. Just a couple of other updates, pleasingly regional Victorian numbers continue to come down. 422 active cases are now in regional local government areas that are the subject of stage three restrictions.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:57)
To give you a breakdown with those three large regional cities that we have been concerned about, Julong is at 159 active cases, Greater Bendigo 44, and Ballarat at 24. So they’re relatively stable, but in aggregate terms, the total number of regional Victorian cases are down. I think the best part of about 90 cases in the last four or five days. So that is good news, but I would just say to all regional Victorians and perhaps this is thee best time to make the point about testing. If you look at testing results, and this is not surprising, given the amount of movement that has been curtailed, the amount of movement that’s simply not happening, then it’s not surprising that title tests numbers day on day, if you compare say this week with a fortnight ago or this week with last week, are down.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (02:49)
To give you a sense of that in the seven days from the 11th to the 17th of August, we saw 154,500, call it 155,000 tests that were processed. That’s about 30,000 less than we had done for the previous week. So that’s about 17% less testing. Now, that is I think almost certainly the product of people not necessarily moving around the community anywhere near as much. And whilst we don’t want to be promoting movement because curtailing movement is all about driving those numbers down, I suppose our principal ask of Victorians today, the principal request is that if you’ve got any symptoms whatsoever, as soon as you have onset of those symptoms, as soon as you first notice those symptoms, please come forward to one of the more than 190 test sites across the state, get tested. Don’t wait a day, don’t wait two days. Don’t wait for your symptoms to get worse. That can be a time where you’re very, very infectious.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (03:50)
And what I’m trying to avoid here, what we’re all trying to avoid here is the case numbers come down to a point where we start to think about opening up and what that will look like, only to be unable to do that because the test numbers are too low for us to have clarity about just how much virus is out there. It seems logical that there would be less testing, but not this much less. So I’m really asking, I know we’re asking a lot of Victorians at the moment, but if I can just simply say to each and every Victorian, if you’ve got any symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested. We will get your results back to you as quickly as possible. The lab teams are working very, very hard. It’s a big, important, powerful contribution that you can make to our collective fight against this enemy.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (04:41)
As I said, I don’t want a situation where we see numbers continuing to fall, but at the same time, the total number of tests falling also, because then that will mean we don’t have confidence that we have an accurate picture of just how much virus is in the community. We don’t want that to be, in any way, an inhibitor to moving to a new phase and a new set of rules, but we’ve got to have that confidence that we are getting a complete or as close to a complete picture, as we possibly can.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (05:11)
More test results obviously are much better than less. It’s not surprising in some ways, given the amount of movement that just isn’t happening. That’s really important, critical, in fact, but again, I would just ask every single Victorian, no matter where you live, if you have any symptoms, please come forward and get tested. Stay at home until you get your test result. We’ll do our level best to get that result to you as fast as we possibly can. And that data will help us to make the very best decisions because we’ll have that confidence that the numbers we’re seeing in terms of positive cases are from such a significant sample of testing that we’ve got a good and complete picture of how much virus is out there across Victoria. Simple, but a really powerful contribution that each and every Victorian who gets tested can make.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (06:01)
Just to round out updates in terms of data, when I spoke about regional metro split in terms of aged care outbreaks, as at the 18th of August, total number since 1 January, 3,240. 2,024 are currently active cases, active cases connected to aged care. Total number of aged care outbreaks again since the 1st of January is 150 of which 120 are currently active. And the total number of people who’ve passed away is… My notes tell me 230. Again, we’ll continue to update those on a regular basis.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (06:42)
So 224 active cases currently. So aged care remains a significant challenge to us, and that’s why everybody’s working together as closely as they possibly can, doing many, many jobs that people would not reasonably be expected to do. To that end, I can confirm there’s 1, 972 shifts have been filled in aged care facilities by hospital nurses and personal care workers. So let’s again send our best wishes and our profound thanks to those nurses and other public hospitals staff, hospital staff who are going in and stabilizing those very, very challenging environments.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (07:23)
Their only focus is getting the job done, providing care, providing support. And I think they’re doing a fantastic job at that. So I thank them. Others in the health system, I don’t think will mind them being singled out because it really is some of the most challenging work. In terms of just finally, before I ask Brett to speak to the epidemiology of the day. Handled in house, I know we’ve spoken about that at some length yesterday.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (07:50)
My most recent update is that all residents have been relocated and are in services that are appropriate to their particularly complex needs. And offices of our department and others involved in coronavirus response are working very closely with the proprietor and the manager of that facility, to make sure that we’ve got appropriate transition plans for all of those residents. The other thing that I’ll just mention as well, and I do very much hope that this is superseded in the next hour or so, but my update on a pharma border permits for want of a better term, we’ve made some very significant progress on that front and I’m very grateful to Gladys and to her team. They’re going to make those announcements as is appropriate.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (08:40)
They’ll make those quite soon. There will be some conditions. There will be some distance limits, but I think that whilst it won’t be necessarily a perfect outcome, it will be a significant step forward for those in our primary production sector, ag sector, in the broadest of senses, to be able to move more freely whilst at the same time protecting public health. We know how important that is to keeping food on our supermarket shelves and getting the job done in a broader sense, but I’ll leave it to the new South Wales government to make the more detailed announcements. But we have made some very significant progress there. And I’m very grateful to Gladys Berejiklian on that front.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (09:15)
Just the last one. I know there’s been some concern again on borders. I know there’s been some concern from Friday the 21st of August, so this coming Friday, there are a number of settings that are changing. And I know there’s been, from a new South Wales point of view, I know there’s been some concern from a VCE senior student point of view in terms of freedom of movement. We are continuing to work with the new South Wales government to ensure that students who reside outside that border zone in Victoria are not unfairly impacted by those border closures.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (09:48)
And again, just like the farming permits, I would hope that we’re able to resolve those matters. I can also confirm, I think I was asked yesterday, Jacqueline Symes as the relevant minister for ag for regional development and a person who represents that Northern Victorian area. She’s also… I think I was uncertain yesterday, but I can confirm for you, she’s been engaging very constructively with her South Australian government counterparts as well. If I need to speak to Steven, then of course I would. But at this stage, I think we’re not withstanding the challenge that these border closes present to us in lots of different ways. There is an enormous amount of work going on to try and resolve as best we can some of these issues that are thrown up by those border settings. So I think that probably concludes all the things that I needed to run through. I might need to ask Brett just to speak to the numbers for today, and then we’re happy to take any questions you have.
Thanks, [inaudible 00:10:46]. So certainly too, 22 is another good number for us today. The trend continues down pretty much as we expected. Although, we have seen in previous weeks, an uptick on a Wednesday that might relate to when people get tested, when test results come through. So again, we shouldn’t hang everything on a single day’s result, but overall, the trend is good. We’ve also seen that the number of active cases in aged care is trending down. The number of overall active cases is coming down by the hundreds each day, but it’s still a pretty big number. 7,274 active cases still in Victoria. But I do expect that to decrease by a couple of hundred every day for the rest of this week and more next week. I would hope that we’re in the 100s, not in the 200s next week, but again, it all depends on everyone doing the right thing, including stepping up for testing. On the point of testing, I think people really need to understand that we’re talking about the milder symptoms with coronavirus. Of course, people get severely unwell. Those individuals are always going to get tested if they’re presenting to a hospital, but I’m concerned, we’re all concerned about people who might not be so unwell as to need to see a GP or go to the emergency department or be admitted to hospital. Those are individuals who might just have the beginning of a runny nose, just a tickly sore throat, or the beginning of a cough. What I’m here to say is that it doesn’t have to be severe high fevers. It might be a very mild temperature. It doesn’t have to be days and days of cough. It can be just the beginnings of a cough. It doesn’t have to be a productive cough. It doesn’t have to be yellow or green sputum or snot. It can just be the very mildest of flu-like or cold symptoms. So please get tested if you have any of those symptoms. And there are some other unusual symptoms that can be pretty classic in coronavirus. So a change in smell, a change in taste. If you notice something with food or with drink that it just doesn’t taste or smell the same, that can be a sign of coronavirus infection as well. Even headache, body aches and pains can be symptoms of coronavirus infection. So for all of those reasons, get tested, isolate at home until you get that result, and do the right thing if you’re a case. That’s it for me.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (13:12)
I’m going to take any questions. I might just add that we’ve made the point a few times now. Flu numbers across, not just Victoria, but across Australia is so low because of physical distancing and hand hygiene and all those things that we’ve been doing, that if you’ve got these symptoms, even really mild symptoms, there’s every chance that you’ve got this virus. So again, that’s another reason why, if your body’s telling you that you’re unwell even mildly, then you’ve got to come forward and get tested.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (13:40)
We just got to keep those tests numbers up, and I’ll be grateful to all of you if you can make that testing push a feature. Because as I said before, we don’t want a situation where we’ve got numbers that say are in the hundreds or even lower, but we’ve seen also a decrease in the number of tests. And we just don’t have that sense of clarity and certainty that the picture is big enough for us to then move to a new set of rules, which of course we all desperately want to do as soon as it’s safe to do so. So I’ll be very grateful if we can just push that message out as much as possible. And you can rest assured that we’ll be on every conceivable platform. We’ll be trying to make that point in coming days. But I’ll take any questions you’ve got. Rachel?
On the issue of testing, do you have any data on which areas people are getting tested in? And are there any concerns that people might not be getting tested in areas where we’ve got high numbers of cases?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (14:32)
I don’t have a breakdown as of today and might be something we can provide to you if there’s any trends we’re seeing there. I think that if you look at a number of retail… I do know not necessarily fine detailed numbers, but in trend terms. I do know that a number of our big retail sites have got substantially less people going through them. And that makes sense in that many, many of the shops that might’ve seen you go there. And then, the test is quite a convenient thing to do, they’re not in fact open. It’s not that it’s an unexpected thing. It’s just that we’ve got to try and change that trend and get back to something like that normal profile. I’m always loathed to put a number on it. What would be an acceptable number? The more, the better. And provided, people are acting on their symptoms quickly, then the amount of symptoms out there, the amount of symptomatic people will drive the total test numbers. Ultimately, you get to a point where the test numbers would be quite low and that would be a wholly good thing because that in itself might well be reflective of how much virus is out there. But I don’t think we’re at that stage yet.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (15:33)
There are still, I think, some symptomatic people out there who are not getting tested and I just ask each of them do it, do it quickly, stay at home until you get your result. I use an example yesterday. I was a bit more conservative. I think it was more like more like 12 hours, maybe 16 hours that this particular friend at [inaudible 00:15:55], a midwife. There’ll be some test results take a bit longer, but they’re working long shifts, they’re doing great work, and they’re trying to get the test results back to people as fast as they possibly can. So that shouldn’t be a barrier to anybody coming forward and getting tested. If we can get you some more details on that, we will.
What’s the baseline number of daily tests that we need done at the moment?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (16:16)
Yeah, look, Cam, it’s really hard to put a definitive number on that. As I said before, the amount of people who’ve got symptoms will probably drive the total number of people who could possibly get tested. And as you get on top of this, then that should be coming down, particularly given that flu and so much of the common cold symptom isn’t out there, because those numbers are very, very lower than they’ve probably ever, ever been. But if you look at it just in terms of trend, we’ve got over that seven day period that I quoted, there’s about 30% less people getting tested. So just moving I think drives most of it. At some point, the amount of symptoms will drive it too, but we’re not at that point yet. So just, again, I can’t put a number on it. All I can do is ask people if you’ve got symptoms, even really mild symptoms, please come forward and get tested. Do it quickly. Don’t wait two or three days, because that can sometimes be the most dangerous time in terms of your likelihood of infecting others. Come forward, get tested, stay at home until you get your results. And that’ll serve all of us really, really well,
Speaker 1: (17:17)
70,000 tests, can you give us an accurate picture of-
Premier Daniel Andrews: (17:19)
Oh, look, it’s not that it’s an inaccurate picture. I just think that we wouldn’t want that trend to continue. We wouldn’t want a situation where we had less people getting tested rather than more. We want the highest percentage possible of people who’ve got symptoms as quickly as possible coming forward, getting tested. We’ll do our level best to process as quickly as we can. It isn’t a criticism or I don’t think it’s not like people aren’t taking it seriously. I think they are, but it will be in some respects, a function of much less movement. So it’s perhaps more of a thing to go and, okay, make a practical decision to leave the house when you weren’t otherwise leaving to go and get tested. But we are all about trying to curtail movement. But the one thing that you must go out to do, although we will come to you if you’ve got personal circumstances that make that difficult. But the one thing that really is critical is to come forward and get tested, even with really mild symptoms.
Speaker 2: (18:16)
And what’s the capacity of the testing system. We’ve been out at one this morning where they’re all set up for just one person getting tested there. So there’s obviously a lot of spare capacity in the system.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (18:25)
Speaker 2: (18:26)
How many tests could you be doing a day?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (18:29)
Well, we’ve had days when we’ve done well over 30,000. In terms of taken versus results process, but if you look at it, that’s probably the best measure. We’ve got very significant capacity in terms of how many swabs we can take. But in terms of laboratory capacity, how quickly it can be turned around, whether it be private labs, our Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, or some interstate laboratory capacity, we’ve got more than enough capacity. So that won’t be an inhibitor. At least, that’s my latest advice. We’ve just got to get people to come forward and to get tested.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (19:03)
We just got to get people to come forward and to get tested.
Speaker 3: (19:04)
Premier, would you consider expanding the criteria for the people that can get tested so if someone doesn’t have symptoms and isn’t necessarily close contact, could they go and get tested if they’re worried?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (19:14)
Well, look, what I’ll say is this, the criteria is very, very broad at the moment. It’s not like we’re saying only certain symptoms, really tight definition, and they have to be acute before you can come. We’re basically saying to people, if you’ve got any of these well known and well understood coronavirus symptoms, so scratchy throat, runny nose change to taste, smell, headache, fever. It’s a pretty big list. And we’re not saying you’ve got to be at a certain point, anything in that kind of realm, please come forward and get tested. It’s a very broad case criteria. It has driven well, nearly 2 million tests over the course of this year. We just got to remain vigilant that getting tested is just as important as following the rules. It’s just as important as abiding the curfew and washing your hands and cough etiquette and all of those things,
Premier Daniel Andrews: (20:11)
I think asymptomatic testing, Brett spoken to this many times, I have as well, the return rate, so the success rate is so low that we’ve not done very much asymptomatic testing. However, if you’re in a workplace, if there’s an outbreak, if you’re a close contact and that’s deemed an appropriate thing to do, then of course we don’t, from this podium, send out messages around asymptomatic testing or pre-symptomatic testing. That’s much more a personal thing and we’ll sit and work through. Now, you would probably remember we did, I can’t recall the exact number, but it was many, many thousands of teachers before schools went back.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (20:47)
In term two, we’ve done literally thousands and thousands of workers in lots of high risk sites where there’s been an outbreak and for the purposes of elimination, we’ve done lots of that. That’s what guides it I think rather than just the kind of general, I would like the peace of mind of knowing that I don’t have it so I’ll go. I’ve got no symptoms and I’ve got no reason to believe I’ve got it, but I want to go and get a test. That’s back to Lundy’s point. I think in terms of whilst we have capacity, it’s not infinite. We just have to be careful that we’re getting the greatest return for the effort, I suppose.
Speaker 3: (21:23)
I suppose there are still many stories of people getting turned away at testing sites so they’ve made the effort to leave the house and they have some reason to believe they could have it, whether it’s through a friend of a friend or those kinds of things. Do you think maybe testing sites, shouldn’t be turning away as many people if they do have the capacity?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (21:39)
Well, I just say as politely as I possibly can, I don’t think that these numbers are driven by people who have turned up and have been turned away. I think that what it’s about is perhaps some symptomatic people who, for a whole range of reasons and again, I stress, it’s not a criticism. We have said to people stay at home. Some of the big retail sites just have no traffic through them. That is the retail side, I mean. That retail center is, there’s not many people there, so the notion that that wouldn’t necessarily have an impact, I think that’s where the challenges and the best way around it is simply to say to people, if you’ve got symptoms, no matter how mild, please come forward and get tested. We will get your result back to you as fast as we possibly can.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (22:25)
And that’ll give us those insights that we need. That as close to a complete picture, as you can ever have. It’s not like it’s a massive problem right now, but there’s a trend there. And we just want to pull that up by, again, reinforcing to people that one of the most important things you can do if you’ve got even really mild symptoms has come forward, get tested. That is exactly what we need.
Speaker 4: (22:47)
Do you think a big part of quarantine breaches might be discouraging a few people from going forward and the prospect of having to stay locked up for two weeks if they do get a positive test?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (22:57)
Well, I suppose it’s pretty hard to try and interpret whether people who would otherwise be intent on doing the wrong thing. It’s pretty hard to interpret them. But look, I think that the vast, vast majority of Victorians are doing the right thing. I think that number is growing. I think that people genuinely want this to be over. They want to get to the other side of this and a critically important part of that is not only driving down case numbers through all of our contact tracing efforts and all the other things we’re doing, but it’s also about brake management, all of that. But it’s also about making sure that we’ve got a testing picture that’s broad enough and big enough that we think it is a truly representative sample of how much virus is out there. My message to anybody in that category say, if you want this to be over, indeed to all Victorians, we all want this to be over. And that means anybody who’s got symptoms, needs to come forward and get tested.
Speaker 5: (23:53)
To health care workers, I think over the weekend, you were mentioned that there was going to be some numbers released on that.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (23:57)
Yeah. There has been an enormous amount of work, but it is not yet complete. And as soon as it is … What that’s going to give us is both, well, we know how many healthcare workers, but breaking them down because that term includes aged care hospital, it includes clinical staff, as well as nonclinical staff. There’s an enormous amount of work that’s been done. Break it down into different working groups, but then also try to deal with that riddle of well, did they get it from each other? Did they get it from their patients? Did they get it from outside? That’s quite a substantial amount of work. It’s getting close to being finished. I won’t give you a deadline, but I think certainly by the end of the week, we’re going to be able to talk about that.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (24:43)
That’s really important. It’s just one of those look back things where you try and get the data to tell you as much as it possibly can, so that if there’s anything we can do, even small things can make a big difference. But in terms of infection prevention and control, PPE stocks, the distribution system, compliance at a local level and I think broadly speaking we’re pretty happy with that. That’s not to say that there wouldn’t be an example of somewhere where it can be improved, but that culture of continuous improvement is really important. Rather than just numbers, what are the stories that those numbers tell us? And are there things that we can do differently? We’ll be able to talk to you a bit about that in a bit more detail soon.
Speaker 3: (25:27)
When you announced stage four restrictions on the 2nd of August, you said there was a total of 760 mystery cases. There’s now 3,669 mystery cases, that’s in just over two weeks. When did you first become aware that there was such a huge spike in mystery cases? And why has that been?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (25:48)
I’m not sure. I might ask the chief health officer to speak to that. I’m not sure whether I was talking about active cases or accumulative.
Speaker 3: (25:50)
No, no. It definitely wasn’t active cases. On the 2nd of August, there was 6,322 active cases and a total of 760 mystery cases. That wasn’t additional cases for that day. It was mystery.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (26:04)
No, I know.
Speaker 3: (26:05)
That was the concern, which it was a huge concern at the time.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (26:08)
It remains a concern.
Speaker 3: (26:09)
Absolutely. Especially now there’s 3,669.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (26:13)
The issue there, I suppose, I’ll let Brett speak to it, but this is not linear. And I think I’ve tried to make that point I don’t know how many times now. It’s really important to acknowledge that it’s not like automatically the day of or the day after I report. Give an example, the 222 that I’ve reported today, we will still have investigations pending on a number of those. I can’t guarantee you that we will conclude those coronavirus detective, that coronavirus detective work tomorrow or the next day or the day after. You would have seen only two or three days ago, we had quite a substantial increase because we’d closed out a whole lot of work. They’d gone and literally done everything they could to try and work out who’d they get it from? How did they get it? And ultimately they couldn’t.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (26:58)
You got to call time on that at some point. This lags a little bit, so that’s probably part of it. When I reported to you 700, the number you just gave me, that had been concluded that we had investigated, that we’d run to ground as best we could. That number will always increase because days, sometimes several days after the extra cases are confirmed here, the detective work finishes. And sadly, there are many cases that we just don’t know, but they are a really big challenge for us. And that’s why it’s such a big team that’s trying to solve those mysteries as best we can. But on trends, I’m more than happy to have Brett take you through that.
Certainly that 700 number was the number that were closed off in terms of investigation at that point in time. We’ve now closed off over 3000. But for the day to day proportion of our daily cases that are mystery cases, if we can map back all of those close days to the specific day that they relate to, we’ve gone from in June, fewer than 20% of our daily cases being mystery cases. It went up to almost a third, it’s now back below 20%. It’s all going in the right direction, but we’re closing off a lot more cases in terms of that finalization of the investigation. It’s not concerning. If we were to close off 500 cases tomorrow, that would be great. We’d know what the story is, but they wouldn’t all be allocated to that particular day.
Speaker 3: (28:32)
So it’s not a concern that that’s five times the amount of mystery cases that there was two and a half weeks ago?
No, it actually relates to the fact, we’ve obviously been focused on the case management, the contact tracing, the outbreak management and finalizing some of the cases in terms of going through each and every detail to close it off in our database, has not been the top priority. We’ve got more capacity to be doing that work now. And so we’ve closed off a great number and it gives us a better picture of how things have been over the last month or two. On asymptomatic testing, I will say this, a lot of people are concerned. I’m a casual contact. I know someone who was a contact of someone who’s a case, but when you’ve got no symptoms and you turn up for a test, you’ve probably got a one in 5,000 chance of being a true case. That’s a lot of tests that we have to do to find a true case.
We really want to focus on people who’ve got symptoms, except when we know there’s a much greater probability that someone will be a true case, in an aged care outbreak, in a meat works outbreak, in other specific aged healthcare setting outbreaks. We want to test people who are asymptomatic because we’ll find people before they’ve got symptoms and that’s important to isolate them at the earliest possible time. But when you’re doing thousands and thousands of tests on people who’ve got no symptoms, the likelihood that you get a false positive test because no test is a hundred percent. If a test is 99.9% good, you’re still going to get one in a thousand that are wrong. And so if you’re doing thousands and thousands of those, you’re going to have as many wrong positive tests as right positive tests so we do need to focus on people with symptoms.
Speaker 3: (30:15)
Just [crosstalk 00:30:15] on the mystery cases. I’m sorry, this last one on it. I know we’re all feeling optimistic about the case numbers going down each day and we’re guided that I suppose, by these daily case numbers, if we will get out of stage four on time. Will we be considering the number of mystery cases when you make that judgment?
Absolutely. The mystery cases are the ones where we can’t link them to an outbreak they’re harder to control in the sense that we don’t know where they’ve come from so we don’t know the settings that they might’ve acquired it from so it’s harder to focus our attention so we do want to see those go down. We know that they’ll go down because the general restrictions that are in place will drive that down because the opportunities to transmit to others to get infected are much, much less. But we do need to look at those as a proportion of the total and on a day to day basis. Sorry, [inaudible 00:12:08].
Speaker 6: (31:09)
How likely is it that the number of people with no symptoms has declined by like around 17%, for example. We’ve been in stage three for a long time, stage four, where even more businesses and schools have shut down.
There will be fewer symptomatic people out there. Flu has disappeared. 10 cases a week. You are much, much, much more likely to have coronavirus than influenza if you’ve got symptoms, but there are other respiratory viruses out there. They won’t all have disappeared. We’ve still got kids with runny noses. We’ve still got coughs and colds that are occurring, but the general way that we’ve gone about our physical distancing and all of the things that we’re recommending in terms of hand hygiene, will have also contributed to all of those respiratory viruses. But what we want is at least 50% of anyone who’s symptomatic to be getting tested. For severe illness, we’re above 50%, but for very mild illness, we’re below and so we certainly want to encourage people with the mildest of symptoms to come forward as well.
Speaker 7: (32:14)
The Premier said it was logical that testing would come down, but not by 17%. What’s a logical figure for it to come down by?
Well, a reduction in cases.
Speaker 7: (32:26)
On no. I meant … There’s been a 17% reduction in the number of tests conducted and processed. The Premier said that it was logical for testing numbers to come down, but not by 17%.
Look, I think the restrictions that are in place will have meant that as many as 17% of people are not going for testing, because there isn’t quite the convenience that there has been previously and people are very focused on staying home and very focused on not going out for anything, but the most essential reasons. We absolutely want people to go out and they’re allowed to go out for testing purposes, but they’ll also be rise and fall in the concern that people have about coronavirus and a sense of concern for themselves about how likely it might be. As numbers go down, I think that concern goes down and that’s what we’re trying to really message that that concern needs to be there. We need to have everyone who’s got symptoms thinking that it’s coronavirus until proven otherwise, because we’ll need those tests to be done to isolate these cases and follow up their close contacts, but to reduce transmission across the board.
Speaker 8: (33:41)
What’s a daily number that you would like to see, to be able to get an accurate picture?
I don’t think there’s a magic daily number. I’d love to see it above 20,000 ongoing. I don’t think it has to be above 25,000 for it to be doing a better job, but it needs to be targeted to the people who are most likely to have it. We need to have our testing happening where transmission is mostly occurring, but we also need that broad sweep of testing so that we’re not missing anything. There’ll be some regional areas that haven’t had a case, but there might be cases out there. We do need that baseline level of testing to occur across the state so that if there are regional cases, or if there are cases where there’s a local government area with very little transmission, that we’re still picking up anything that might be there. I think it’s more about making sure that the testing is appropriately targeted and that people who’ve got symptoms are stepping up to get tested.
Speaker 8: (34:29)
[crosstalk 00:34:29] what’s appropriate or what’s adequate to get an idea?
Look, I think we could have adequate levels of testing at 17 or 18,000. If we’re getting people who are symptomatic coming forward for testing. But the magic threshold, I don’t think there is one. I think it’s all about the fact that we just need anyone who’s got symptoms coming forward.
Speaker 9: (34:54)
In terms of known transmission, it was family groups and gatherings then it went to workplaces. What is it now?
It’s certainly a bit of both. We know that there’s a cycle of picking it up in a workplace for those settings that are still open and essential work that’s going on, but people bring it back to their home and they might transmit to their family members before their symptoms have kicked in. And so you’ve got a transmission occurring in the home as well. Some of those family members, again, before a test result might come back, are going to other workplaces. There is that cycle between work and home that we’re trying to break with all of these restrictions, but it is a combination. Obviously, we get a very clear picture of transmission that occurs when we know the close contacts And we know that there’s a very significant proportion of our cases that are linked to a close contact, a family member. We can’t always determine if it’s being picked up at work, except when there are outbreaks or clusters, but workplaces must be significant settings as well. We know that we’re still seeing outbreaks in those places.
Speaker 9: (36:01)
In terms of the mystery cases, although we don’t know where they’re getting it, is this mainly people that are popping up in workplaces or is it equal across?
Look, mystery cases follow the kind of demographics for our total numbers. We can’t say for sure, but there are more in that 15 to 40 range or the 20 to 29 age range. There a working population so there’s every chance that they’re also picking it up in the workplace.
Speaker 9: (36:29)
[inaudible 00:36:29] able to confirm the total number of deaths. I think it was mentioned 334, but I think last night on the website at about 4:12 PM, it was mentioned that it was 334. We actually hit-
Speaker 10: (36:41)
That’s yesterday’s death toll.
Speaker 9: (36:42)
Speaker 10: (36:43)
Speaker 9: (36:43)
Yeah. Is it 351?
I’ve got 351 in front of me.
Speaker 9: (36:47)
Speaker 11: (36:48)
Premier, on aged care, we now know that the surge workforce just wasn’t available for care for residents [inaudible 00:36:55] Gardens and other homes. What’s the state’s responsibility for getting those surge workers and putting them into homes?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (37:01)
I wouldn’t accept that there was not surge capacity and every effort made to provide care and support to residents who are … Let’s be very clear about this, these residents have got absolutely nothing to do with the public health system, hospitals, for instance, but nurses, personal care workers, have gone in there because they’ve been asked to do so. And they’ve done their level best, their level best. In fact, I think that they should be singled out for praise. They’ll always be a bit of back and forth about individual settings and individual circumstances. We’ve seen some things you probably would never have thought you’d see. One of the managers of one of these facilities out in a car park, having an argument about whether the facility should be handed over or not. Now I’m a bit limited in what I can say. I might like to say lots on that and few of the examples you’ve given me, but there’s some legal action going there and I just don’t think a fight is necessarily what anyone needs now. We’ve got a situation, where if I can just take you back to the update I just provided…
Premier Daniel Andrews: (38:03)
… We are, if I can just take you back to the update I just provided you. We’ve got 1,972 shifts that have been filled by hospital nurses and others. They’re doing a great job. And we’ve got additional capacity. I won’t for a moment try and convince you that’s easy. It’s always challenging. And it’s very challenging work. And that’s why it’s a small amount of money, 250,000, I think, but we’ve added to the counseling services. Because these nurses, these workers that have come from very different environments have gone into these aged care facilities that are in complete crisis. And they need some support because they’ve been involved in some things that have been very, very challenging for them.
Speaker 12: (38:43)
given that structure that’s now been put in place. Are you saying that what we saw at Eden Gardens over the first eight days won’t happen again?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (38:50)
Well, I can’t guarantee that there won’t be outbreaks in more aged care facilities, but I think I can, with some confidence say to you that we’ve been asked to step in and provide some help. We’re doing that. Everyone’s working together as best they possibly can. And the only focus, whether it be in surge capacity workforce, so our staff going into another system, but still to get the job done, transports to hospital. All of these things are guided by only one thing. And that is the best interests, the care, the dignity of each and every one of those residents.
There’s evidence that aged care providers have been encouraging staff to work across multiple sites and perhaps still are. What would you say to that?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (39:34)
Well, we’ve been very clear, and we’ve worked very hard, again because we’re asked to. To try and limit the number of staff who are moving to multiple sites. And I don’t know whether that’s confirmed or not, Lundy. And again, I’m not looking for an argument with anything other than this virus, but no employer should be doing that. We’ve all got to work together. And I think by and large employers, managers, are doing that. Trying to limit the number of people who might work at multiple sites because that… And that’s not an easy thing. It’s quite a difficult thing to do. But I think that’s an important part of the overall strategy.
Speaker 13: (40:11)
Premier, can I ask when did you get confirmation that the almost entirely of the second wave of coronavirus can be traced back to the [inaudible 00:40:20]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (40:20)
The genomic sequencing update that I… The full briefing that I received on the morning that I announced, I think it was the morning. Certainly on the same day, within hours of getting that briefing, we announced the judicial inquiry. That’s the only genomics that I’ve been briefed on in any detail, because I can’t change the results of that, but can only work as hard as we can to deal with the results of that. But we’ve been very clear from the outset that at least a significant number, and it may well be higher. I think we’ve tried to be as open and upfront as we can be on that, but that’s where it started. And that’s where we… I think it is accurate to say within hours we’d stood up an inquiry and I think that’s exactly the right thing for us to have done.
Speaker 14: (41:06)
At the time you said that the genomic testing, you heard that a family of four returning from overseas may have been the initial source of the Ridges outbreak, as opposed to a staff there. With that in mind, can you rule out that security guards were the cause of that source of cluster?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (41:21)
I am not going to rule in or out anything. That’s why we’ve set up a proper inquiry at arms length. It is, with the greatest of respect, it’s for Judge Code and her process to give us exactly those sorts of answers. Again, I’m not in a position to be able to confirm, or rule in, or rule out, or provide you with a view on that. That’s exactly why we’ve got a separate, properly resourced process to give us those answers. And indeed, more.
Speaker 15: (41:47)
At the time when you received the genomics testing, you said it wasn’t for the state government to release because it was the Doherty Institute’s genomic sequencing. Professor Ben Howden from the Institute told the code inquiry that the genomic testing was paid for and commissioned by the DHHS. So, essentially it is a state government.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (42:08)
Well, I don’t have the genomic sequencing. The only person that… I do not have it. It is not something that I can give to you, because I don’t have it to give. The Chief of Health Officer has spoken to this a number of times. I think all of it’s being provided too. And it’s a day-by-day thing, or week-by-week. They’re done in batches. I think the Chief of Health Officer has been pretty clear about that. I don’t have it to give to you.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (42:35)
And the only batch that I’ve been briefed on in any detail, other than there is a batch, is the one that prompted us within hours to stand right here and say, “Right, this is what we believe has happened. It’s at least a significant portion.” And I think we said at the time and I’ve said many times since, it could be more. That was only hours afterwards. Beyond that, it’s important that the inquiry look at those matters, but I don’t have any capacity or any ability to change that. I’ve got to be focused on what we’re doing right now. But I think everyone can be confident that that sequencing, those batches, that data is being provided to the inquiry.
Speaker 16: (43:17)
Richard Colbeck this morning made comments that the Victorian authorities were to blame for testing delays at Eden Gardens. Do you accept that that’s fair or [inaudible 00:00:43:25]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (43:25)
I haven’t seen Minister Colbeck’s comments. And if I might be so bold as to say, let’s not get into arguments with any thing or anybody other than COVID-19. That would be my comment. I haven’t seen his detailed comments though. We’re working very, we’ve been… Let’s be abundantly clear about this. We’ve been asked to step in and play a role in supporting these residents. We are doing that. We’re doing it to the best of our ability. The Prime Minister has not raised those sorts of issues with me.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (43:59)
I’ve been in contact with him this morning. I’ll be talking to him this evening about a whole range of different issues. I haven’t seen Minister Colbert’s comments, but I would just say that that sort of stuff is not going to keep residents safe. We’ve all got to work together. And I think we’re at our best when we work together. And that’s why we’ve been able to bring some stability to many of these sites. Not having an argument about who’s in charge, but instead just getting on and getting the job done. And that won’t change. That’s my approach. It always has been, and I’m not aware of the substance of what you’re telling me he said. I’m not aware of that at all.
Speaker 16: (44:32)
He said at his press conference there was problems with testing. They were taking a little bit longer.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (44:37)
Sorry. What was that? I didn’t get the first part.
Speaker 16: (44:39)
He acknowledged earlier in his press conference that test results were taking a little bit longer to come back. He said that obviously the team is under… There’s a lot of results coming in.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (44:47)
I didn’t attribute that to aged care.
Speaker 16: (44:48)
No, but that’s what I’m saying. Will you now look into whether testing results are a concern [crosstalk 00:44:54]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (44:54)
Well, I think I’ve tried to make a general point about bickering. I hope I’ve made that clearly, as clear as I can. On the issue of the substance of what he has or hasn’t said, and I’ll look at those comments. Of course, we’re happy to ask a question about that. But that’s some time ago and I am conscious that there is some legal action that families have indicated that… As is their right. But, we turn around tests, we provide supplementary workforces, we make public health decisions about who needs to be furloughed with only one thing in mind. And that is the interest of those residents. There’ll always be a bit of back and forth on these things, but I’m not so much focused on that as I’m focused on making sure those residents get the care and support that they need.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (45:42)
And then by extension. And since I think we last spoke, I’ve had a couple of exchanges with the Prime Minister. Both of us are working hard to try and improve those systems where family get the information they need. We know that this is a deeply stressful time, very anxious time for a lot of families. The key point here is that I don’t want to see anybody without the information that they want and they need. And I certainly wouldn’t want to see a situation where, because of any sense of confusion with the flow of that sort of detail, that families who really had no cause to be anxious at all were anxious. It’s challenging enough.
Speaker 16: (46:19)
Have you heard from the Prime Minister or Minister Stuart Robert about the rapid response for the disabilities?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (46:25)
No, I haven’t. I’m happy to chase up with Luke Donnellan, as the relevant minister has. And as I said a moment ago, I’ll be talking with the PM tonight. There’ll be a whole range of different things we talk about.
Speaker 17: (46:38)
[crosstalk 00:08:39]. How important is it for Victoria to set up a rapid response similar to the aged care sector for the disabilities?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (46:47)
I think it’s the right thing to do. That’s not a point of criticism. It’s not a point of debate. I wouldn’t have thought… It’s working well in aged care and I congratulate everybody who’s involved in that. And it’s not about what color uniform you wear, or whether you get a federal government paycheck, or a state government paycheck, or whether you get paid by a private company that’s for profit, or a church and charitable outfit. That’s not the issue. The issue here is all the people, including Minister Colbeck, who need to be around the table. Literally, every night they are there, and throughout the day, trying to have the most complete picture of where is the problem? What can we do about it? How can we do it as fast as possible?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (47:24)
That just makes sense. I think it works. It’s working well, or as well as it could in aged care. I think that there are some other settings where that same approach will work. I think that’s the point that we’re trying to make. But we continue to work very closely. As I said before, that’s not just the best way to go. It’s the only way to go. This is a state of disaster. It’s a global pandemic. It’s wildly infectious. There’s no time for anything other than an exclusive focus on getting this job done.
Speaker 18: (47:52)
This is one for you or for Brett, do you know what proportion of mystery cases are in regional areas?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (47:58)
Brett can speak to that.
I’m not sure I’ve got it in my notes. No.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (48:05)
We can come back to you then.
Yeah, we can come back to you.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (48:09)
Genuinely, we will come back to you.
There are certainly some regional local government areas where the proportion that are mystery cases are zero. And somewhere it’s only a few cases and all of them are mystery cases. So it does vary from 0-100% based on local government area. But overall, I understood that it was a minority, something like 13%. But, we’ll we’ll come back.
Speaker 14: (48:30)
Professor Sutton, when did you notice the massive spike in mystery cases?
There was no massive spike in mystery cases. We’ve closed off a lot more in recent days. So as I said, on a day-to-day basis, they’re not allocated to that day. If we close off 200 tomorrow, they won’t be tomorrow’s mystery cases. They’ll relate to everything in the previous two, three weeks.
Speaker 17: (48:52)
Can we get an update on the R number?
On the R number? No, 0.86 is the latest that I’ve got, that’s being done by our state Intel team. I suspect it’s lower again, where we’re moving into a phase where there’s even less movement. That effective R number or not is kind of reflective of transmission that’s happened 10 days, two weeks ago. And so it’ll continue to trend down.
Speaker 13: (49:19)
[crosstalk 00:00:49:19]. On the issue of contact tracing, we saw on Four Corners last night the story of a healthcare worker who’d been told that she tested negative. She went to work and interacted with numerous people. She was then told she tested positive, as were her close contacts, only to then later to be told, but actually she was negative. This isn’t the only example we’ve had of people getting the wrong message, or people waiting much longer than they should to find out that they’re positive or close contact. How much has this improved in recent weeks? And what have you done to make sure that it does improve? What measures have been implemented?
I don’t know the specifics of that case at all. I haven’t heard issues of false reporting of results, but it can happen through the lab, it can happen through the primary care or whomever else has done that test, and it can happen through DHHS. But I’m not aware of issues in recent days with our case management and contact tracing at all.
Speaker 13: (50:20)
It would seem that contact tracing has improved over the last couple of days. What’s been done to… What’s been fixed? Because there were problems-
… We’ve been working on so many aspects of contact tracing. Obviously, when we’ve scaled up, there’s been a whole bunch of things that we’ve needed to do in having the kind of infrastructure support to make that happen. We’ve got huge teams who are working from home. So having the remote working support for them to be able to do that and not put the entire contact tracing team at risk, if we were to have a case within the team. There’s more direct electronic input for the interviews that are being done into our database. Our electronic lab reporting is separating our negatives and positives much more easily, so it’s coming into the system even faster. There are a whole bunch of system improvements that we’ve worked on.
Speaker 13: (51:08)
And just on another issue, you’ve mentioned a few times, months ago, and I know the government’s invested in it, sewage surveillance. Where are we up to with that?
Certainly, we’ve taken lots of samples, historical samples that have been frozen. There were very few positives out of the hundreds of samples that were taken, that might relate to freezing degrading the virus. And so, we needed to freeze it at the time because we couldn’t do the testing back in the day. But we are now taking fresh samples to again, validate the sewage testing. But it’s not going to tell us much now. We know there are 7,500 active cases in Metro Melbourne.
Sewage tasting will come into its own when we’re getting to very, very low numbers, especially when we’re seeing regional areas where we think there are no active cases at all. And if we can validate the test to tell us that if we’ve got a positive sewage sample, that there should be a case out there, then it’ll help us go back and do some case surveillance in areas where we know the sewage is telling us there’s a case. And vice versa, if it’s telling us it’s negative and we’re confident that it’s negative, then we can say that entire catchment from a sewage surveillance point of view has no cases.
Speaker 14: (52:23)
The number of active cases have been falling by 200 every day for the last few days. Is that falling fast enough? And do you expect it to fall even more in coming days and coming weeks?
Yeah. The active cases are now 7,274. It’s dropped by 200 since yesterday, it’ll drop by a couple of hundred in the days ahead. It needs to drop more. And it’ll be a bit of a lag. There’ll be cases who have severe illness, who won’t get cleared as recovered for a few weeks. Hospitalized patients might be regarded as active cases for a month or more because they need two negatives to be cleared. It does need to drop more. It will drop more. But I think it’ll lag. The new confirmed cases each day, I think we’ll see some active cases that go on for some time.
Premier, can I ask a non coronavirus related question? Just for something different.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (53:20)
You can ask. Whether I have the capacity to answer it is another matter.
China’s announced a one year anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine. And I know wine is something that Victoria has been looking to export a lot of to China. Do you anticipate this will have a negative impact on our wine producers? And are you in a position to, I guess, raise the issue with any-
Premier Daniel Andrews: (53:42)
… To tell you the truth, Lundy, it’s the first I’m learning of that. Maybe I should have seen it in clips this morning, but I can’t-
… I think it’s happened during the press conference.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (53:47)
All right. Well, on a broader point, I have kind of two piles of information. One is the virus. One is other things. That’d be in the other thing pile. So I haven’t got to that. And I’m pleased you’re pointing out it’s happening right now. Look, we believe, and I don’t want to start an interstate arguments, but we believe we have in broad terms, given the number of different climates that our state enjoys, the number of different soil types, we have I think the opportunity to produce, and we do produce all of the very best wines. And we think our export offering, not just to that market, but to many markets is really strong. But we want it to be even stronger.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (54:28)
Anywhere where there’s a growing middle class, where wine becomes something that is a statement of affluence, progress, that’s a market that you have to work really closely. And I know Wine Vic, lots of very small producers and much larger ones do send a lot of wine overseas to China, to other places. I’ll get you some details. We’ve done quite a bit in this space. Quite a bit. And there are a number of election commitments two years ago that we’ve delivered on, I think faithfully. But let me have a look at that. But again, because of the unique nature of our state, we literally can produce across the board. And in my judgment, it is the finest wine you’ll drink.
Speaker 12: (55:17)
Premier, can I ask, are you comfortable with the public service receiving a pay rise before the end of the year?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (55:22)
Well, we bargain in good faith. This is in accordance with wages policy. There’s probably not much more of a comment than I can make.
Speaker 12: (55:29)
Do you think it’s appropriate given the circumstances?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (55:33)
It wouldn’t have been done if we didn’t believe it was. We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t believe it was. Again, it’s in accordance with wages policy. That bargaining process began long before the global pandemic. And public servants will be called upon to continue working very hard long after, particularly when it comes to that important job of rebuilding.
Speaker 18: (55:53)
You announced a call for tests service. I think it might’ve been a week and a half ago.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (55:58)
Yes, we did. Yes.
Speaker 18: (56:00)
Do we have the numbers and what the uptake has been?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (56:02)
No, I don’t. But I’m happy to get them for you. Just for the purposes of those that are watching, this is for anyone who’s vulnerable and can’t get out for whatever reason, we will come to you and conduct the test on your doorstep. Which we think is a really important way of making sure that anybody who believes they’ve got symptoms, they need to be tested. Then we’ll come to you to support that. I think we’re anticipating it to be more in the few hundreds than thousands. But let me try and get an update for you. And if we can make that a feature of the chair release later today, we will.
Speaker 18: (56:37)
And can we also get an update on the hardship payments?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (56:43)
Speaker 18: (56:43)
[crosstalk 00:56:43] 1,500.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (56:44)
More than happy to provide that to you. I think we were on what is now 450. That was up close to 20,000, I think if memory serves me correctly. And then there was a smaller number, because obviously it’s just for positives, the $1,500 payment that the feds have now taken over. But if we can get you an update on that, we will.
Speaker 18: (57:01)
Yeah. Just in terms of the number of applications-
Premier Daniel Andrews: (57:03)
… or not, but if we can get you an update on that, we will.
Speaker 19: (57:03)
Yeah, just in terms of the number of applications and also how many people have received it.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (57:05)
Speaker 20: (57:06)
Can we get an update on the number of people who’ve been fined for not isolating?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (57:09)
We can. I believe we’re going to get you, as I’ve said to you a few times now, we’re going to get, Vic poll are going to do a media event for you and take you through compliance in all of its glory. Everything from curfew, these issues of not being at home when you should have been, all the way through to some businesses that were open and shouldn’t have been, not wearing masks, that I think is the appropriate thing to do.
Speaker 21: (57:32)
Just back on the inquiry and on four corners last night, we’ve heard pretty comprehensive evidence of people working in hotel quarantine not receiving appropriate training or appropriate PPE or having appropriate infection control protocols. This was a system that was run by your government. Do you take responsibility for those failures?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (57:54)
I’ve made it very clear to you that I’m the leader of the state and the leader of the government and, of course, I’m accountable for mistakes that are made. That’s not a new position of mine. I have had that position for every moment that I have had the privilege and honor of this job. It is as it should be. But I’m not going to comment on what’s reported in a TV program, or indeed what’s reported ongoing because we’ve got an inquiry. That is their job, and that’s why they’ve been engaged to do that work. They’ll get us the answers that all of us are entitled to, and I’ll be accountable for that.
Speaker 22: (58:31)
Just back on Hamilton House residents.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (58:33)
Speaker 22: (58:33)
You mentioned that they’ve all been relocated.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (58:35)
That is my brief, which I think was 10 that had been moved as of yesterday’s briefing, 12 that were being moved. I couldn’t be certain they had all been moved, but certainly those 22 have been moved. My note actually says all residents, but I’m happy to double check that for you, whether there’s any that have remained in place. But certainly all of those who needed to go to another place, they have been moved and there’s been a pair of work done to try and deal with what are, I think we all understand, particularly complex needs.
Speaker 22: (59:06)
Is there any particular reason why it took a number of days to move all the residents? Transferred them to other places?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (59:13)
Not that I can detail for you. I’m not aware of any specific. I think it’s fair to say that whenever you’ve got an environment that is full of people who each have fundamentally unique needs and complex needs, that makes for a unique and complex environment more broadly, and I’m confident that there’s been every effort made to take care of these residents, but at the same time to take care of public health, or to do everything we can to protect public health as well. If there’s anything more I can add on that particular facility, I’m more than happy to come back to you.
Speaker 22: (59:51)
Can you also explain to us why the decision was made to use security guards for residents who obviously are in very vulnerable positions? We know that there was one man who left just today and security guards were unable to stop him.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:00:07)
Again, I’m not certain about those arrangements because this is a private facility. It’s not one that we run. But let me come back to you. Again, I’m not sure. I’m not briefed and I don’t have detail as to those arrangements and who’s made the provision for that. I know that Victoria Police were on scene, Ambulance Victoria were on scene. There will have been other social workers and other people who’ve got, drug and alcohol workers, mental health clinicians, they’ll be a big team that have been involved in. I know it seems only a relatively small number of people, 22, maybe a few more, but we are talking about 22 people who have got profoundly complex needs and that always presents a challenge, but one that I think our dedicated teams are equal to. But on that specific, I don’t have a brief on that, but I can try and get you some information.
Speaker 23: (01:00:56)
In terms of compliance, you might have to come back to us on this one as well, but WorkSafe and Emergency Victoria going specifically out to workplaces, do you have any update on-
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:01:05)
I don’t, but I’ll get you one. Happy to do that. That’s the purpose of these discussions. I know they’re out doing lots and lots of visits and that’s really important. The trend, I think in general terms, is that they’re finding people who are being compliant with their COVID-safe plans, but there’ll be a few that aren’t. Let’s come back to you on that.
Speaker 24: (01:01:24)
The inquiry found yesterday that security guards and other people that worked at the quarantine hotels when they did their training modules, they’re instructed they didn’t have to wear a face mask. Did you know that? Are you shocked to hear about that?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:01:37)
Well, what I’d say to you is the inquiry didn’t find that yesterday. The inquiry’s findings will come at the end of the inquiry. The inquiries heard evidence to that effect, and that’s a matter for them to work through methodically. I’m absolutely confident they will. Then after hearing evidence, after having submissions, after a process of sitting down and working through all of that, Judge Coate will write her report. It’s at that point that she may make findings, and that’s the appropriate time for us to a proper discussion about that. I’m not going to run, I think, an ongoing commentary, literally every day. They’ve got work to do, we’ve got work to do. They are going about that task. I think the Judge Coate is exactly the right person to do it. She’s got the budget, the terms of reference, the resources that she needs and she will report on the date that she has nominated.
Any decision on government elections?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:02:29)
No, not that I can speak to now. We’re still looking at that closely, but we hope to be able to confirm arrangements very, very soon, Lundy. I can’t guarantee that it’ll be me from this podium, but Sean or I will update you as soon as we finalize those matters.
I asked about moratoriums on rental evictions a few days ago and you said the decision was-
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:02:52)
You did ask me, and my answer has not changed. I don’t have any announcements to make about the extension of moratoriums and other specific arrangements for both residential and commercial tenancies. But when I do, [Samaya 01:03:03], you’ll be the first to know.
Oh, thank you.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:03:05)
Or among the first to know.
Can I ask Professor Sutton a question, please? One that I’m sure a lot of people are also wondering, what’s the difference between the strain of the coronavirus and flu and why is coronavirus spreading as rapidly as it is when flu cases are so low?
Coronavirus, this particular coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 and the illness that we call COVID-19 is one of many coronaviruses. Coronaviruses can cause things that are as mild as a runny nose and there are coronaviruses that have been with us for generations. But there are coronaviruses that can newly come from animal populations, animal reservoirs that humans haven’t been exposed to and that our immune response and our level of immunity means that we can get very severe illness.
SARS, that was an epidemic in 2003 that fortunately ended over a seven-month period was one of those very severe illness, killed 10% of people it infected, but didn’t become a pandemic, but may have. There’s MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, that’s also a coronavirus that’s come from camels in the Middle East. It also continues to cause cases but, for whatever reason, hasn’t been easily spread between people. But coronaviruses can cause anything from a very mild to extremely severe illness.
Flu viruses have been with us forever. The seasonal flu is one that tends to have a kind of more predictable severity. It’ll go up a little bit, down a little bit. But the seasonal flu is not as severe as this SARS-CoV-2. It is still deadly because millions and millions of people get infected. Overall, an estimated 3,000 people die in Australia each year with seasonal flu. But for an individual getting a flu infection, it is much, much milder than coronavirus and it’s less infectious.
That RF number for flu, it’s probably about 1.5 in an average year. One person infects one-and-a-half others. But SARS, for COVID-19, it’s closer to two-and-a-half, so it’s more infectious. When we have all of these restrictions in place, it can actually put COVID-19 in check, then it absolutely puts flu in check.
Is that the reason why social distancing and hygiene is working so much more effectively for suppressing the spread of flu as opposed to the-
Yeah. All of the things that we’re doing to suppress COVID-19 are working even more effectively for flu because it’s not quite as infectious as SARS-CoV-2.
Speaker 25: (01:06:02)
You did mention that the flu cases are down 75% at the moment. Would you say that there are more coronavirus cases then weekly than there are flu at the moment?
Yeah, there are. There are probably only 10 cases of flu weekly in Victoria. Obviously, we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of cases of coronavirus. Flu has virtually disappeared from the map. The 75% reduction takes into account January, February, March when we actually had quite a bit of flow coming from the Northern hemisphere. It’s actually just disappeared from April onwards to extremely low numbers.
Speaker 25: (01:06:36)
Did you ever think you’d see something like this in your career?
No, I don’t think so. It’s a terrific lesson. There are lives saved from the flu that we’ve prevented. It’s also a salient lesson that we should do these things every flu season. When we’re on the other side of coronavirus, we should still bear in mind that masks will be very useful as we go out at the peak of the flu season, maybe right through the flu season, to do the same things that work for COVID.
Speaker 25: (01:07:07)
You’re not going to put us in Stage Four for flu though, are you?
There’ll be no Stage Four for flu. Promise you.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:07:15)
Can we just, again, make the point to all Victorians, particularly given what Professor Sutton’s just spoken about in relation to flu, with flu, and to a certain extent a sort of common cold that we would be dealing with being at such low levels, if you’ve got symptoms even really mild symptoms, the chances are you might have this virus. Even if you have mild symptoms, please come forward, please get tested. That gives us the data, the insight, the certainty that we need, that these low case numbers are a genuine representation of falling rates of coronavirus in the Victorian community. We’ve got to keep those testing numbers up, otherwise it will be really challenging for us to make decisions in the weeks or weeks ahead. I’d ask Victorians even with the mildest of symptoms, please come forward and get tested.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:01)
Just finally, to all of those Victorians, I think a growing number of Victorians who are doing the right thing, I congratulate you. I thank you. This is tough. It’s a long haul endeavor. It’s the ultra marathon that none of us necessarily wanted to run, but we are seeing progress. No complacency can come into this, we’ve just got to stay the course and see this through and get to the other side of it. That’s what’s most important, and that’s what a team that has never been bigger is absolutely focused on.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:34)
If there’s no other questions …
Speaker 26: (01:08:37)
Sorry, this has just being brought to my knowledge.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:40)
Speaker 26: (01:08:40)
Is there something about the state of disaster and the fact that to extend that past it’s current end date, is there a difference to the state of emergency? Do you have to reply to the solicitor general?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:52)
There’s a state of emergency. There is a six-month timeline on that. There is the state of disaster which operates at the same time, but at a higher order and the interplay between those two and whether there is a need for us to change the Public Health and Wellbeing Act or any act I should say. That’s the subject of solicitor general’s advice. When we’re in a position to confirm that or not, we will. Of course, the parliament, this currently is a bipartisan group that’s working through I think under the direction of presiding officers to see whether there might be a hybrid model between online as well as physical in- person parliament. I’ll leave them to that important work.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:09:34)
Of course, if there’s a need to make a change, then of course we would put that before the parliament.
Speaker 26: (01:09:39)
At the moment, there is a need to make a change, but it’s possible that in order to extend the state of disaster that-
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:09:45)
No. Not the state of disaster, the state of emergency.
Speaker 26: (01:09:45)
State of emergency.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:09:46)
It’s time-limited. There are separate provisions that relate to the state of disaster. For instance, there needs to be periodic reporting, and I think that the first of those reports has been signed off and is on the way to being submitted, as that act calls for. That’s a report that ministers sign off on and just details all the different things that have been done under the, in the name of the state of a disaster. When we were in a position to update you on that, we will.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:10:18)
No other issues?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:10:20)
Thanks very much. We’ll see you tomorrow.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:10:21)