IN FULL: Victorian Health Minister provides a COVID-19 update as 73 cases recorded | ABC News

IN FULL: Victorian Health Minister provides a COVID-19 update as 73 cases recorded | ABC News

who manages the intensive care unit teams across a number of western health sites and kylie has seen close at first hand what a covert outbreak means in our intensive care units but firstly can i update the victorian community on the status of the current covert outbreak across our state there were 73 cover 19 cases reported locally this morning reflect all locally acquired from yesterday 52 are linked to known outbreaks and cases and 21 are under investigation at least 24 were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period and further work has been undertaken over the course of the day with some of the cases that came in later in the evening this takes us to an aggregate of some 805 cases currently in victoria of which 800 are now locally acquired and five acquired overseas in regards to vaccines getting vaccinated is our way out of this pandemic it’s the key markers on the national cabinet plan that will get us all through this and it is the key deliverer of hope and aspiration of recovery and coming out the other side of this pandemic and in that regard we saw 26 702 vaccines administered through our state-run clinics a further 20 increase on the previous sunday and saturday was also a 20 increase on the previous saturday so we’re continuing to see strong numbers come out through our state-run clinics which now run at 2.383 million vaccines being delivered through that system and we suspect we might close in as a state through all platforms 5 million vaccines being administered over the coming day total for the for the pandemic that is uh as you know the premier launched the 1 million vaccines program a little while ago and we are almost halfway to delivering on our goal of that figure through the state run centers we are currently sitting at 455 000 doses administered through that program since that campaign commenced and we’ve seen a very strong demand on the pfizer bookings that have been in place across our state sites and whilst they’re currently are notified bookings available right now for first doses in that system don’t give up because as more becomes available from the commonwealth we put more systems in place and it just goes to show again how strong the demand for victorians if we get the supply to get people vaccinated and in that regard today is actually the day in which both gps and pharmacies will begin to open up for victorians aged 16 and above for pfizer under the roll out so please if you can’t land one today through the state-run clinics come back and have a look again tomorrow in coming days perhaps even more importantly go on inquire through the gp network or the community pharmacy network to get access to that and of course the fantastically effective astrazeneca vaccine continues to be available at state centers and at gps and continues to be the uh a target endorsed vaccine especially for the over 60s so please come forward and get the best vaccination that’s available for you and the best one that is available for you is the one that’s available today in regards to testing we know that testing is the other immediate short term measure that gets us through this outbreak and yesterday we saw 41 395 covert tests processed that takes us to over a million tests being undertaken since this particular outbreak has commenced in regards to people who are unwell with covert and given that this is the delta variant which is very nasty we now have 49 people in hospital 15 of those 49 are in intensive care and 11 of those are on a ventilator brett will shortly speak about where the outbreak is and the particular stories behind the numbers but first we wanted the community hear from someone at the front line and that is kylie fisher kylie knows more about the impact of covert 19 on people on our health system and on our front line workers than just about anyone else kylie knows what covert can do to people in intensive care what can do to our health system what it does to our staff and nurses and our clinicians and our and families and kylie knows what it means to be a member of a community that battles covenant at the front line so i might ask kylie just say a few words thank you i’d just like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to come and talk to you all today my name is kylie and i work at western health one of the hospitals right in the western suburbs in melbourne and last year i really want to talk to you about what happened at western house at western health we had over 400 patients admitted to our hospital with covert 19 and what we also hear is what we hear every day on the news we generally hear about patients admitted to the intensive care units but what i want to talk to you today is about the overwhelming numbers of patients that are admitted to the awards in our hospitals so i’m privileged to be able to work with a group of nurses called the critical care outreach team the icu liaison nurses at western health and last year they helped prevent hundreds of admissions to our intensive care units by acting as a extension of the icus and they helped support our ward nurses to support our patients and our communities now they would often come to me overwhelmed sometimes in tears they were worried they would come to work worried they were worried about their colleagues they were worried about how they would support their colleagues on the wards looking after overwhelming numbers of acutely unwell patients patients that we usually don’t see admitted to the wards they were worried about their families they would go home after 12 hour shifts long shifts they would have showers before they would leave work they’d drive home get out of their cars get changed out of their scrubs in their garages have a shower again before they would go in and speak or hug their families and their loved ones now i saw tears i saw exhaustion i saw nurses consoling nurses i saw blood across the ridges of their noses and their ears from wearing ppe for 12 hours at a time long shifts on their feet kilometers and kilometers of of of case they clock up responding to emergency calls and calls for assistance on the wall what what we don’t understand is the they they’d come to me and they’d say kylie it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before these patients are young they’re fit and then the next minute that they’re well and then the next minute we’re taking them to icu now you ask me what i’m worried about as their manager i’m worried i’m going to have to ask them to stand up and do it again and they will now these are senior icu nurses who’ve seen it all before they’ve done it all before and i have to probably ask them to do it all again they will but they shouldn’t have to so i’m asking you know we’re lucky we’ve got science we’ve got a vaccine please if you haven’t already get yourself vaccinated make that appointment keep yourself safe keep your family and your loved ones safe keep the community safe thank you thank you brett thanks indeed kylie a very harrowing picture of last year in western health before vaccines were available uh really um unbelievable work from you and your team and and we really pay tribute to uh everything that you’ve done and everything we’re trying to do in public health uh is to protect our hospital system from just that scenario of overwhelming numbers needing community care needing impatient ward care critical care icu that is what all our efforts are focused on in terms of the outbreak at the moment uh of the local cases uh i can provide for the for the 52 that are linked thus far nine are linked to the shepparton outbreak five to the my center child care setting five to el taqwa three to the city of hobsons bay outbreak two to glenroy west primary two linked to sunshine hospital emergency department their household contacts two linked to chemist warehouse in hoppers crossing one linked to the broader royal melbourne hospital outbreak one to the east and kilda community outbreak one to barclay square one to cs square and 20 cases linked to existing cases uh but those um original cases don’t have a known acquisition source there are now more than sixteen thousand uh primary close contacts and more than twenty thousand secondary close contacts in terms of the location of our newly acquired cases they really focused with seven in brimbank 15 in hobson’s bay eight in hume 14 in wyndham and of course nine in shepparton today other suburbs though or local government areas banyul burandara darabin dandinong melbourne monash moorland port phillip whittlesea and yarra so really significant spread of cases still but a lot of focus obviously in the uh west and north of metropolitan melbourne and of course shepparton in terms of our active cases and and this is this is the story of vaccination uh and really points to a difference with 2020 170 of our cases are aged um zero to nine 124 aged 10 to 19. 167 are aged 20 to 29 and 150 are aged 30 to 39 so more than three quarters under the age of 40. that is not the demographic spread of age in our community um to to have fewer than a quarter of cases over 40 years of age that is the effect of vaccination that is telling a really positive story and as supply ramps up as our gps and pharmacies have fires are available from today as our state vaccination hubs are doing more of vaccines first and second dose than ever before as well as having plenty of astrazeneca available for those eligible populations these are really really positive measures uh that will change the story of who we’re seeing as cases and can provide us options as we go forward in terms of the shepparton outbreak there were two mystery cases notified yesterday they are now linked uh all cases in greater shepparton are now linked in this outbreak that’s a that’s a good news story a key call out however anyone who attended uh sky salon hairdressing on august 15 through to august 19 we believe please come forward for testing we believe there are more people who need to come forward uh who might have been there over those days the turalgan exposure site um that’s been published really no exceptionally high risk uh there the close contact of the case is tested negative but there are still potential exposures so please be aware of that but doesn’t look like a high risk exposure site at the moment you know in summary we’re in a very challenging position right now we are hoping to see a trend and maybe it’s stabilizing over uh the last few days with numbers not increasing exponentially we are in a much much better position than we might have been uh with exponential growth from the beginning of this outbreak the number of days from when we had 50 cumulative cases in july is is relatively flat compared to how it took off in new south wales that is both a tribute to everything that victorians are doing in terms of following the rules and the fantastic work of our contact traces it still sees a really significant number linked and manages those known and linked cases really effectively but uh it’s a huge effort required for the delta variant and it only takes us dropping our guard just a little bit for that transmission with the delta variant to occur to household members and within the community so really really high levels of compliance and they are now hard to maintain i accept doing the right thing all of the time in all circumstances is incredibly challenging but that’s what delta demands of us if we’re going to drive cases down but contact tracing will do its efforts in identifying all of those close contacts and ensuring that there’s support to people in isolation and quarantine most of the outbreak is under control but for those areas that are seeing the mystery cases in particular hobson’s bay windham and hume local government areas we do see continued mystery cases amongst those other linked cases that presents a challenge for all of us in terms of changing the restrictions going forward we do see some reluctance still in people coming forward for testing there’ll be a myriad of concerns about whether your close family members you know therefore need to be in quarantine what that will mean for their work what that will mean uh for their potential risk but there is no you can you can’t have your head in the sand around this if you are symptomatic and you might be infected with covert the only path for protecting your family your loved ones your close contacts is to get tested so that they can know the earliest possible time and can protect those other family members those other households those other workplaces and places that they might go to if they know their status if they know that they are primary close contacts and can quarantine they will not put other people at risk this is not about blaming anyone this is about being clear that the only pathway to protect those around you those you care about most is to actually know your own status with regard to covert 19 visit the coronavirus dot vic.gov dot iu website there are links both for the exposure sites but maybe more importantly for the financial support tab on the home page there’s the disaster payment that you’re probably aware of if you can’t work due to uh the restrictions that’s up to seven hundred and fifty dollars a week there’s the four hundred and fifty dollar uh um payment for getting tested and awaiting your result if you have to miss work there’s the fifteen dollar isolation payment if you have to quarantine for that full 14 day period and of course there are the relief packages and the business support that’s been available through the victorian government as well if you need support please call out for it uh it is available if you have symptoms please get tested to protect those you love the most if you don’t have symptoms please go to one of those vaccination settings gp pharmacy or one of our state hubs that are providing more vaccines than at any other point to give us those options that we are looking uh desperately for thank you um mr tony blakely said on the abc this morning that at current rates of infection would be six weeks under the current restrictions to get back to zero cases is that the plan for victoria uh well at the moment uh as brett indicated the uh situation as we hope plateaued and there’s every indication that the measures are starting to kick in in regards to specific timetables and in regards to specific specific measures uh the public health team are working on those but in terms of time frames in terms of uh strategies the time that the strategy is the national cabinet agreed position that uh when we get to 70 when we get to 80 vaccination rates our options multiply and if we do that from the lowest possible uh infection levels then our options grow even better when do we expect to get an idea of when how long the will be extended by you said yesterday said yesterday that it would be extended but do we know when we will be told for how long or so all of those details are being worked through by our public health team and as the orders and the material gets finalized and the minute it’s finalized we’ll be out to talk to the victorian community about what that will look like but can i stress that the strategy has always been the same once national once national cabinet all states and jurisdictions signed off on that strategy our goal is to keep the level of infections down and the level of vaccinations up uh and there’s hard work to be done in both of those areas is that an acceptance that we may end up staying in lockdown until we reach that um not necessarily no uh the the in terms of restrictions public health restrictions we’ve had public health restrictions on uh in different iterations for best part of 18 months now i think we can work on the basis that if we are successful there will be different restrictions and the goal is to be successful what about a road map though minister um businesses screaming out for that this morning saying this uncertainty uh is not helping them in any way plan for anything without that road map we had last year well last year was very very different uh the road map exists it’s called the national cabinet decision that all states and territories have signed off on the sooner we get to 70 the sooner we get to 80 vaccination levels our options grow in terms of how we can respond and the when we get to those points with lower infection levels our options multiply even more considerably so so in terms of businesses concerns uh we share those families concerns we share those with the entire community’s concerns people want to get to the other side of this and the way in which we get to the other side of this the quickest is by keeping our infection levels low and our vaccination levels high and the thing that’s holding us back on the vaccination levels is supply and the sooner the commonwealth opens its checkbook and starts providing us more vaccinations is the sooner we can get there can we have though um a different situation for people who are double-backed i mean wouldn’t that be an enormous incentive even with the grand final things like that oh well in terms of once you get to 70 and 80 percent that is the plan that all states and jurisdictions have signed off on which has as a component of that that is being worked on right now about uh the positive incentives that people who are double vaccinated uh will have in place for them and conversely the measures that those who aren’t vaccinated won’t have available to them but that’s predicated on there being seventy and eighty percent uh vaccination levels because if you go before then the doherty’s modeling shows the kind of scenario that kylie and her team had to deal with last year would be visited again on our public health systems and none of us are going back there year 12s are just over a month away from doing their first exams you’ve said you want to prioritize them in terms of vaccination but at the moment there are no measures to make sure they can get vaccinated before anyone else in the 16 to 39 year old age group what are you doing to facilitate their ability to do those exams all 16 and above people in the state are now eligible and i’m aware of a very strong turnout of 16 and above through the available networks that are out there i’ve seen evidence firsthand of the really strong levels of engagement that students and their families and teachers have got into the event the wider system that’s now available uh in terms of the sax arrangements that are now in place uh there’s been some positive positions put in place particularly for those that require a show up sack that’s in place at the moment that was announced over the weekend and in terms of prioritizing the necessary arrangements for vce students so come october they can start their exams with the certainty of of at least some vaccination levels for first facts has been in place there’s work underway between education health and the wider education community to make sure that those form part of the strategies that we’ll roll out and when we’ve got more to say about that we certainly will share that their work on going to get them back to the classroom at some point between now and they’ve got to do their exams of course that will all depend on the epidemiological conditions at the time and making sure as we’ve demonstrated with the performance and other sacs that require attendance today and this week that we’re putting in place those safe measures as soon as it is safe to do so as soon as the vaccination provisions uh allow that for the exams and other arrangements we want to return not just vce students but all students as soon as we are as soon as it is safe to do so that continues to be our plan we’ve always known when the vce exams were the prime minister scott morrison said weeks ago now when fisa would open up to 16 to 39 year olds you announced last week vc students would be prioritized is there any reason why there was no forward planning to actually prioritize them from the get-go and just on that supplies supply has been the reason that constraint that has held us back considerably from that get go is the lack of supply all of these groups uh if we recall back in when the 1a 1b and other arrangements were right at the start of the year it was all going to be done by october clearly that isn’t going to be the case the constraints have been and continue to be around supply you can’t distribute what you don’t have but a few weeks ago we were guaranteed supply of let’s say even ten thousand twenty thousand thirty thousand five doses we were told pfizer would open up to 16 to 39 year olds which it does today which it does today why have we not essentially prioritized from weeks ago when we knew when pfizer was opening up when we knew what doses we were getting to prioritize year 12 students and bc students to get their vaccine because year 12 students are members of the communities as of their families and now they’ve all got access to that in the limited supply constraints that are in place if there was extra supply provided into australia it disproportionately went to new south wales and we do not begrudge them that that is given the circumstances that they’re in you know others made a judgment that that was the appropriate thing to do as soon as supply is got into this state it gets out into the arms of victorians in regards to the constraints that allow us within those supply channels to then pick out the particular groups who need to be prioritized originally it was frontline healthcare workers border and quarantine workers now it’s still private residential aged care and aged care workers and we are working on the basis of making sure that we support not just our vce students but all of our school students to get vaccinated as soon as they possibly can and get them back into their classrooms serious advice victoria’s advice on 50s for a six week break essentially between the two doses that six week falls in spa smack bang in the middle of vc exams first doses is it’s always been the goal uh in in when it comes to vce i think so is there if there are kids who are getting their first doses today is there a possibility to allow vce students to get their second dose in three weeks time as opposed to six well so we’ll work through the atari advice that we’re all constrained by as to what’s safe and appropriate that’s always been the case that will continue to be the case and we’ll work through with education and families the best way to make sure that our vce students and our wider school students can get the support they need to get back and get through this most important year for themselves is the first dose enough to get the exams going you mentioned their first stages was the goal could is that enough to say right well i’m not a clinician and our resident clinician will be back in a moment but in terms of the uh terms of the advice that we’ve got and whether it’s for vce or indeed from the national cabinet decision for all school-age kids above 12 the goal is to get the initial vaccine done this calendar year why didn’t you prioritize year 12 students over the rest of the 16 to 39 year old cohort given the impending deadline of exams well you can say rachel why didn’t we prioritize any number of really valid and important groups particularly vce students it’s because of supply as we’ve just announced it’s extraordinarily difficult to get through a a pfizer vaccine which is the recommended vaccine for the age group that we’re talking about through a target through our state-run systems today because they’re all booked and you can only get out what you’re given our gps and our pharmacies can only allocate what they’re given the real problem has been from the start and is today the lack of supply what we need is more supply for whether it’s vce students whether it’s their teachers whether it’s their family members what we need is supply we can all step up through our state-run clinics through our gps uh through our pharmacies but you can’t distribute what you can’t what you haven’t got how many doses are we getting this week minister do we have any sort of transparency on how many were getting faster doses you’d have to ask the commonwealth that under covert shield there’s this thing called dynamic redistribution which allows the commonwealth to shift vaccines around that’s raised a few questions along the way but you’d have to ask to come off that question so with regards to allocation on vaccinations and are you comfortable with the amount that victoria has received given that new south wales received half a million doses 570 000 more than half a million um is what new south wales got allocated and we do not begrudge them that victoria got 170 000 uh extra but it’s uh this dynamic redistribution that sees um material moved around in response to demand issues by the commonwealth that i’m sure has a very sound public policy and public health grounds to it the greatest the need gets the greatest support but that has clearly come at the expense of other states and territories so now isn’t it our time to put our hand up and ask for more doses given that we’re three weeks in to this lockdown in cases of course it is and i can assure you every meeting that state officials and state ministers have with their commonwealth counterparts uh that that request that demand is placed and as i think the premier indicated yesterday in his conversations with the prime minister over the weekend there was a commitment from the commonwealth to make sure that from here on the allocation would be done on a proportionate basis of population which was always the original model can we ask kylie a future carly can i just ask you new south wales currently has 800 people in hospital and a much higher icu rate what would happen if that situation was replicated in victoria yeah look um if last year was an example of what what we uh we i have to go on and knowing that the delta strain is a lot more contagious i fear that our icus will become more overwhelmed last year we managed a large portion of our acutely unwell patients within the ward setting but i’m worried that being more contagious our icu beds will quickly be utilized and that we will struggle to meet the demand of what’s required for our community and we have surge capacity in icu so the beds are there but can you tell us about the capacity to staff those beds and what’s happening in our hospitals with burnout and how our healthcare workers are feeling look i can’t i can’t speak in depth to that across the state but but i do know at western health that we have very robust surge plans in place and we have had them in place in 2020 and they were put to the test in 2020 and i know that we’re confident that we will be able to serve our community and and and make beds available but we don’t know what what type of numbers we’re looking at and and that’s i guess why we’re urging you all now to please get vaccinated and help our healthcare work and when you hear people say just open up what does that how does that make you feel as a healthcare worker terrified um i i really worry about the you know as much as myself i i’m also subject to lockdown like every other healthcare worker yet and i i i feel for the people with businesses and i feel for year 12 students and i i my partner is a vce teacher and i have a nine-year-old son myself who’s being homeschooled so i understand how difficult it is for our community however i’m just not sure that the community really knows what it’s like and and to see my team particularly these are experienced icu nurses who have got a wealth of knowledge and many many years of experience amongst them and to have them come to me in tears that this is something like we’ve never seen before and um it was quite overwhelming and that was last year and now we’re looking at a strain that potentially is more contagious can you tell us the difference between the patients that you’re seeing from last year to the patients that are coming in this year they’re they’re ages and i’m sure that’s different sure look um there last year we had there were many the the the ages of patients admitted to western health last year varied from the very young my age young and to the elderly um this year what i’ve found as i brief my divisional director and i brief my organisation every day when i’m looking at the patients coming into our victorian icus the numbers seem to go up quite quickly and the numbers that are requiring ventilation are coming up quite quickly and last year in 2020 at western health we found that the patients that didn’t require ventilation on the wards were probably higher in number than what were in the actual icus this year i’m seeing admissions straight to the icus you painted a really harrowing picture of you know what life was like in the healthcare system last year we’re hearing horrible stories come out of sydney as well vaccination is essentially our only way out how disappointing is it that we have millions of astrazeneca sort of in storage and people are still vaccine shopping look i think i’ve i’ve been vaccinated with astrazeneca um i was lucky enough to have a vaccine offered as a frontline worker in march and i’ve had both of my vaccines um i i guess i i don’t want to um i understand where people may have fears about about vaccination and i guess maybe because it’s a newer vaccine however the the science behind it we’re very very lucky in this country to be able to have vaccines offered to us um and i i just i just really would strongly encourage people to go ahead and make that appointment just to keep themselves safe and their families safe and help take the pressure off our health care services well kylie when you see thousands of people protesting and saying that that the virus isn’t real that it’s a government conspiracy and you’ve got nurses crying on your shoulder are experienced nurses we obviously don’t want to attack those people but from your perspective as a person who is saving these people’s lives when you see that on the television in the papers what what impact does it have on you it it worries me because obviously when i see these things on the news where lots of people are congregating together without you know social distancing and without face masks i worry about the impact and the flow on into the hospitals and i i can with my hand on my heart stand here in front of you all today and say it is very very real it is happening it’s not a conspiracy it is a very real thing almost everyone who’s been admitted to hospital in the most recent outbreak has been unvaccinated in light of that what’s what’s your message to people about vaccination please get vaccinated it’s the best way to keep yourself your community your loved ones safe and help to you know make sure that our health care workers aren’t overwhelmed and then that they can help support patients when they do need our help um i’ll just add on vaccines it really is our pathway out and we’ve got a lot of bad news around australia at the moment um with respect to covert but um astrazeneca there are signs that the immunity that you get from astrazeneca might even be more long-lasting than pfizer and that it will outperform pfizer six months after getting vaccinated one of the other advantages uh in in a roll out that’s been slow across australia in global terms is that we’re getting our visa doses in the middle of this delta uh outbreak and so the the peak of protection from the fisa vaccine is going to happen when we’ve got uh really significant pressure of cases that is that is good for us in terms of our population immunity we just need to crack on and get to that 70 80 level and there are good news stories around the world iceland denmark singapore different different countries different demographics but they’ve gotten to 90 percent of their 12 plus population 80 80 90 plus um so 70 population coverage and controlling delta with that level of vaccination coverage and easing restrictions very substantially that’s where we’re headed to that’s where we want to head to uh and and that is going to be available to us with the highest levels of vaccination coverage we can get sorry is your advice to government still that we need to get to zero or is it to keep the numbers low as the national cabinet strategy we have to do what is feasible we are not going to we are not going to achieve the impossible if it becomes impossible but the aggressive suppression strategy is pretty explicit through national cabinet it is doing your utmost to keep those numbers down to manage the health system to get to zero if you possibly can but not with some absurd hope if if numbers continue to increase despite everything that you’re doing so in our current situation right now today is zero possible i i can’t say i know that we can do better in terms of all of the things that we’re building as our as our public health response pillars communication engagement the compliance with our restrictions the testing and the vaccination coverage they are all things that can help drive numbers down we could do better in each and every area we know that more people could come forward for astrazeneca we know that people could follow the the public health restrictions um even more strongly we know that dropping our guard from time to time just gives delta that opportunity to break through and cause another workplace another family outbreak so we can do better uh where we’re stabilizing that is still a positive element in terms of having um relatively low numbers in our icu it becomes apparent that xero is no longer an option and i say this knowing that it didn’t quite work last year but with the added advantage of vaccination this year do we look at specific rules for specific lgas so that other people can enjoy freedoms is that on the table this year i wouldn’t say it’s off the table i think we have to see how the virus is moving around clearly we’re doing pretty well in shepparton that gives options for regional victoria in particular at the moment metropolitan melbourne has exposure sites right across the metro area i don’t want to be in a situation where you drive people uh to uh leave certain lgas to go to other lgas and seed it more broadly so we have to bear that in mind how human behavior responds to restrictions being in place or not being in place but to the extent that we can apply things differently we’ve always tried to do that what about people who would right now double backs before other people why can’t they prove it with their passport or such and give them immediate freedoms now so that the economy can benefit you know mental health all the rest what’s the reason why we can’t do that for those people this has been talked about and and uh planned through national cabinet for a long time it’s still being worked up i don’t want a situation where we’ve got differential rules in victoria compared to new south wales uh or south australia with respect to doubly vaxxed people it would be great to have national consistency for the issues of equity and for the issues of perceived fairness um but i think that there are reasons for doubly people to have greater freedoms greater accessibility for certain settings but that’s that’s still being worked through is the playground and the curfew under review this week there are there has discussions about changes to or changes or extensions to restrictions is it all in or is there something everything’s up for review uh whenever we come to this point of uh reconsideration so yeah we’ll look at that um we have to bear in mind that transmission can occur in all kinds of settings but it’s a balancing act we want to make sure that people can sustain those behaviors we want to make sure that mental health of adults and kids is supported to the fullest extent that we can within these awful constraints of of lockdown that is supporting our our health system and and their health system response is there any update from that sorry um obviously 18 months into this pandemic it’s a bit of a different landscape so rather than driving cases down to zero do we need to weigh up the mental health we’ve always weighed up the mental health issues part of the reason why the public health response has been what it’s been is to get to a point where we can freely uh ease restrictions to allow people to live the lives that we know that we want to live as human beings so all of that has been a primary consideration right through it it remains a consideration uh in everything that we um are making determinations on going forward we’re seeing more children present with mental health issues in this last period you know the stats so you know do we need to weigh that up rather than continuing to focus our eye on driving it is not a question of just focusing driving transmission down we are absolutely thinking of that we are thinking of at the same time what the consequences of opening up too much would be both for children’s health the long covert considerations what it means if they were to introduce the virus back to their families what it would mean if transmission between children would be a real driver of um you know the epidemic increasing really significantly the the 40 000 cases that are occurring every day in the uk at the moment in part is driven by the fact that there are unvaccinated kids because they’re not yet eligible or they haven’t got the coverage of the 12 plus age group that they would like in countries that have gotten to high coverage of the 12 to 15 year age group they’ve gotten better control there are as i’ve pointed out before there are literally millions of children orphaned by covert uh there are families in new south wales at the moment who are struggling with one or both parents being hospitalized or dying those are mental health considerations for for kids as for all of us there are obviously a couple of restrictions that would be completely off the table like you know home gatherings for example or opening theaters or restaurants what are some of the safe things that could potentially be eased and what sort of what are they look we’re working through those at the moment there’s nothing yeah there is nothing to announce today clearly we’ve always said there are higher risk settings the lower risk settings are those in which uh the gatherings are much smaller where it is doubly vaccinated people who you expect so the age groups that are that are eligible in that regard uh in outdoor areas and where it’s not prolonged contact or with where it’s in a regulated environment where there’s check-in where there’s an opportunity to be able to contact trace so all of those things are in our mind uh in considering um restrictions uh and easing of restrictions yesterday the premier had said he had received work at the moment but we’ve got uh examples of mobile massages that can go you know people homes and and provide this service is there uh inconsistency there that perhaps if we are seeing a plateau in the numbers we could open things like dodd group dog groomers there’s a lot of these are things that would be under consideration if they if they are regarded as low risk we have to think about uh whether transmission might occur you know with with uh compliant businesses or non-compliant businesses because there’s always a proportion but you’re right where there are limited person-to-person interactions they are the lowest risk settings with respect to massage it’s not massage it’s uh critical medical uh support to people who you know who need um allied health intervention as an emergency or as something to relieve a really significant medical condition we could have dog lungs though last time around and we can’t this time i mean what’s the difference look let’s let’s consider it as we as we go forward but nothing to announce today yesterday had said that he had received medical advice just yesterday that we could essentially drive case numbers down to zero given it took us about 60 days to get from 100 to zero last year with obviously a less virulent variant um and with the same restrictions in place what makes us confident that we will be able to drive down cases the same way we did last year look i’m not talking about being confident or lacking confidence i think we need to do our utmost again in line with the national strategy of aggressive suppression we have got a different situation with respect to vaccination coverage for some of our most vulnerable populations and indeed our aged care sector tragically last year was not just settings where so many tragic deaths occurred it was also a driver for transmission as those essential workers worked across facilities took uh cases back to their families unknowingly so it was a it was also a driver of transmission that made last year particularly challenging we’ve got a significant proportion of our workforce of our aged care and health sectors that can be amplifying environments for transmission highly vaccinated now so that does change the the dynamics but i’m not second guessing uh where we might be able to get to uh in two weeks in a month we will do our utmost and we will try and balance uh all of those elements of what is a proportionate but necessary response to protect our health system as part of national cabinet decision making i guess um aged care workers need to have at least their first year by september 17. that hasn’t been you know written into the public health orders or there is no legal mechanism currently to mandate it in victoria where are you up to with that it is absolutely on track it is expected to be in place uh we have communicated um the expectation that the sector needs to ready uh its workforce to make sure that those who are attending and rostered for those shifts will be vaccinated by that deadline so that’s our expectation that’s what i would expect to see by mid-september and this is obviously a federal government responsibility but do you know what the plan is if we still have a large chunk or even a small chunk of the aged care workforce not vaccinated by september 17. where’s the surge workforce how do we actually you know how do people care for the elderly people in these homes look we’ve clearly flagged that at hppc as an issue it’s been brought up at health ministers meetings and maybe minister foley can speak to that we have flagged it as a concern the commonwealth needs to manage that workforce that they’ve got responsibility for in private sector aged care for the public sector aged care workforce we’ve got very high vaccination coverage already so the the implications for the workforce i think are much uh much less um but the risk is there there are there will be some individuals who will choose not to be part of that workforce ongoing so the planning needs to really happen at the facility level but also at the organisational level for those uh networked aged care facilities that um have a workforce that that might move across lodge i swear is that a close contact of someone who visited the shopping center or is that something you found historically um i don’t know the details i imagine it’s a close contact so we’re assigning it to the cs square but it won’t be a new i doubt whether it will be a new exposure from you know from one of the uh shops within that square and in terms of the western suburbs where are you sort of seeing the transmission happening at the moment is it exposure size is it work places where are you sort of seeing the is you need to jump on well look it is it is those um retail settings that remain open so food there’ll be uh supermarkets as exposure sites but uh some of those essential services like a pharmacy food distribution center they are the places that have to remain open and do remain open so they remain a risk for transmission that’s why wearing masks remains important that’s why getting tested immediately remains really critical and there was a shepherd in aged care facility sorry aged care facility it’s been listed as an exposure site for about 13 days but i think all the staff and residents have tested negative is that correct is there any risk there that we should look the the um the determination of an exposure site here is really for the local public health team to look at the risk and to take an appropriately precautionary approach they don’t want uh by any means transmission within an aged care facility those early tests of staff and residents is really good news that there hasn’t been anyone tested positive they still need to go through that quarantine period they could still test positive but it looks under control and clearly there’s been no transmission detected yet just on the weekend just on shepard and it’s doing well as you said before sort of hinted that regional victoria might get some sort of a reprieve are you planning that they might be the first to go and maybe fencing off shepard and or keeping them you know locked in and the rest of the region where there is nothing yeah no immediate determination but um we would clearly look to whatever options we can in releasing restrictions for places where we don’t see transmission we don’t think they’re too substantially at risk because of the movement of people or because of exposure sites and and it’s just good news that all cases are linked in shepparton and that the public health response can wrap around those close contacts of which there are thousands how close you to making an announcement for even regional victoria first or the rest of the state oh look it’ll happen over the next couple of days over the weekend there was talk about sunshine west and the industrial site and wastewater detection is repeatedly coming up is there any update there and is there any specific anything specific happening in terms of testing of workforces there yeah we’ve we’ve tested um at very high levels a number of workforces there focused on that area um that the wastewater catchment represents so 90 plus percent coverage for those workforces we haven’t detected a positive case it may be that someone has recovered remains infectious in terms of excretion of virus uh in wastewater uh but not testing positive on the on the nasopharyngeal swab so that’s a possibility nonetheless uh they could have transmitted to others there might still be people who have been exposed and um are yet to become unwell so we need to continue the call out for testing and for anyone symptomatic to come forward as well the royal melbourne hospitals aged persons mental health inpatient union unit at broad meadows hospital has had two cases in the past week and i understand there’s also been a case at the broad meadows hospital what cluster are they linked to are they part of the broad meadows cluster or the royal melbourne cluster or something else completely different yeah i don’t know for all of them um there are some that are clearly linked to the royal melbourne hospital that were transfers across but um i don’t know that that applies to all of them right just one last question uh yesterday the premier said people are presenting late with symptoms and he said that anyone attending the protest isn’t likely to come forward and get tested are you concerned that undetected cases are circulating in the community yeah of course we always make the assumption that there are cases who are symptomatic who are who are positive who haven’t yet come forward for a test i can’t say it enough that testing is the way to protect your family your close contacts your loved ones it is also a mechanism to protect you if you are diagnosed early in an illness and we’ve seen from the delta variant it’s not just more transmissible for those who are unvaccinated and for those who are vaccinated if you compare the delta variant to previous variants you are more likely to be hospitalized 2.7 times more likely to be hospitalized what we’re seeing internationally is that through this wave there are there are much fewer cases relative to the number of um overall cases there are there are fewer cases being hospitalized that’s because of the high vaccination coverage but for one individual who’s vaccinated compared to previous variants you’re more likely to get severe illness for any case who’s unvaccinated you’re much more likely to get severe illness so getting tested early is also a way to have access to appropriate treatment and care and you may have heard of the um sutra monoclonal antibody that is now available in victoria we’ve got a distribution plan for it it’ll probably be given to patients starting this week if not tomorrow and it works on neutralizing the effect of the virus for people who are eligible and who are most at risk so more elderly people with chronic illnesses people with immune conditions people who haven’t got the ability to respond to vaccination because of their immune system as well as others might so getting tested early means that you can have an early intervention with a monoclonal antibody like this or some other medical intervention that can make a difference to your outcome keep you out of hospital and absolutely keep you out of icu and keep you from dying so um can’t say it enough get tested early uh to protect others but also to give yourself the the best chance of staying out of hospital workers at the level cross level crossing removal site at edith vale where yesterday told initially that it was a tier one site i understand a worker tested positive immediately after he’d spent two days working there it was then downgraded to tier two what was the basis for those upgradings and downgrading um you’re following these exposure sites more closely than i and that’s very much in the weeds uh in terms of the public health response i don’t know the specifics they always look at those uh sites they understand the interactions of individuals it may well be that a workmate shared a car or shared an office space and that was the reason for transmission in that case but i’d be guessing uh downgrading to tier two is is often based on that first flush of tests that come back for everyone and an understanding of what the interactions between everyone on those work sites might be and and it’s obviously been deemed a lower risk it’ll be reviewed all of the time and if there are further positive cases it may well be upgraded again there are workers who are concerned that um the tier one grading would have had a huge impact on the project i think the frankston rail line was due to be closed off as a result of this soon are you able to reassure the public that this would have been based on the infection risk and not the risk to the project yeah it’s always based on the infection risk in terms of the public health designation of a tier a tier level for any exposure site how does the antibody treatment work is it a a blood transfusion is it a nasal spray yeah you get you get a an infusion um you are hopefully able to remain at home so the infusion happens over a one hour period in an outpatient setting i imagine or a day clinic setting and and you can stay at home and it protects you from that more severe illness the antibody works by attaching as for any immune response attaching to the virus and neutralizing its effect on the body and on the on the cells so a really positive development there are over 7000 doses that have been acquired procured for australia there are 500 available in victoria as of now when do you think that’s going to be widely available obviously you’ve got to test to see if it works is that something that in six months time there might be a treatment if this is successful oh look it’s already it’s already in the treatment category so it’s gone through approvals uh internationally and in australia uh it’s now really in the in the consolidation phase where it’s given to patients and we continue to monitor uh the clinical differences that it makes by virtue of being given and does that give you more options for removing lockdowns if there is a treatment and there is vaccinations it certainly gives us an assurance that our health system can be protected from those more severe cases that would otherwise require intensive care so anyone who gets downgraded from dying to surviving absolutely a worthwhile treatment but also from intensive care to being managed on the ward or not requiring admission in the first place they are all positive things with this particular treatment if that’s okay there are serious allegations of domestic violence and assault against the head of an alp-affiliated union um included in a sworn statement from his wife he’s previously been convicted of family violence allegations should john setka stand down pending an investigation oh well i’m not commenting on a matter that is before victoria police and that is an internal matter for um an affiliated union to a political party for which i’m not a spokesperson for what message does the lorry sender send to domestic violence victims that he won’t stand down and also what message does it send to victims that you know an alp member won’t comment well the matter is as i understand it by what you’ve just said before the victoria police would not be appropriate to comment on any specific matter that is before victoria police particularly by a member of the government executive having said that this is a government that more than any other government in the country let alone the country’s history has made family violence a a key part of what it is to be safe in victoria and to call it out and act against it and in regards to specific matters particularly if they are before the courts that is a matter for the courts can i ask you a question just on the hospitals being under extreme constrain in the current situation um junior doctors have also pursued a class action over the dire working conditions in hospital so this was an issue prior to the pandemic over 60 of junior doctors are making a clinical error due to fatigue so what’s being done to support these doctors and especially now in a setting setting when we have such a shortage of resources in our medical setting so as i understand the class action claim against a number of health care health providers uh relates to junior salary medical offices and all i can say there is if you’re entitled to overtime and if you’re entitled to payments then you should get paid it no matter who you are whether you’re a salary doctor or whether you’re a hard-working water icu nurse specialist or you’re anyone in the victorian health care system so i can’t speak as to particular issues that the salaried medical officers are pursuing other than i understand there are proceedings underway in courts government’s position has always been if you’re entitled to it you should be paid it it’s been an ongoing issue since at least i think 2002 and i would urge all parties to negotiate in good faith and resolve the matter sorry just to follow that i guess you’ve got that now doubled with the fact that we’ve got hundreds of medical staff in isolation how do you think our medical system will cope under the current circumstance so look um our as kylie’s indicated our health care services are always at full throttle what we want to make sure is that the risks of covert and the risks of [Music] perfectly predictable and perfectly able to be forecasted demands of covert don’t enter the system and we can do that by getting vaccinated the first opportunity that you can and we can do that by making sure that we follow the public health rules those are the measures that will take the pressure off our public health system and allow people like kylie to deliver the world-class service that she and her colleagues do in a way that the victorian community has come to expect just on business support in new south wales the federal government has has a partnership with the new south wales government um to provide a scheme called job saver which i think came into effect from the fourth wake of their lockdown we’ll be entering the fourth week of our lockdown as of thursday or friday are there any plans to introduce that kind of support in victoria i’m sure there’s always discussions between treasurers and economic development ministers and i’m sure that those commitments that both levels of government have made to support businesses in victoria will continue on so you’re hopeful that victorian businesses will receive the same support as new south wales ones well i’m not the relevant minister in terms of the particular details but what i would whether it’s provision of vaccines or the provision of support we want to make sure that victoria is treated exactly the same way as every other state so we can get to the other side of this as quickly as we possibly can all good thanks everyone um
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IN FULL: Victorian Health Minister provides a COVID-19 update as 73 cases recorded | ABC News

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