A message from the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly

Our way of life in Australia has changed dramatically in recent weeks – and it will keep changing as we continue to respond to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.

Governments across the country have imposed tight restrictions on our daily lives to help stop the coronavirus from spreading and reduce people’s exposure to it.

Restrictions have been imposed on the retail sector, and many facilities – for instance pubs, clubs, gyms and cinemas – are no longer permitted to open.

Things that have been fundamental to our way of life are not currently available. Australians have adjusted amazingly with strong evidence of reduced foot traffic, public transport occupancy and many other measures that show we have got the message.

We have imposed strong border measures. International travel has been banned, with a few exceptions. Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia. From tonight (Saturday), all returning travellers will be subject to formal supervised quarantine in a facility, reducing one of the biggest current risks of new infections.

People are also experiencing a barrage of opinions – be they from experts or through social media.

I can understand all of this can be confusing and may be compounding people’s anxiety levels.

Australia is a free country and everyone is entitled to express an opinion. People have different opinions about the best way to combat COVID-19.

Let me be very clear about a couple of points.

No health experts dispute what the problem is nor how to address this outbreak. It’s about saving lives and livelihoods. The only dispute is how hard to go imposing measures, and when to impose them.

And anyone who thinks we can impose restrictions for two or three weeks and then lift them and we can return to our normal lives – free of coronavirus – is misguided.

The risk is COVID-19 would rear its ugly head again, more aggressive than before.

Some people have asked why we haven’t imposed a blanket lockdown like other countries have done.

The answer to this is that unlike countries such as Italy, Spain and Iran, and cities such as Wuhan in China, we have remained ahead of the curve.

By the time health experts in these countries recognised what was occurring , COVID-19 was out of control and spreading like wildfire. This is the reason why hospitals in these countries have struggled to cope with people with severe forms of the disease.

Despite the number of cases rising quite quickly in recent weeks, this is not the case in Australia. And we have reason to be confident we will keep ahead of the curve.

Two-thirds of the cases have been acquired overseas. That’s why we’re redoubling our efforts at our borders and in tracing who these confirmed cases have been in contact with to reduce the spread of the disease.

We have one of the highest rates per population of testing for coronavirus in the world. We have conducted more than 184,000 tests, with less than two per cent returning positive.

Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world – and we are very well prepared for this outbreak.

Our response to the outbreak is flexible and scalable and we are modifying it as the outbreak evolves and we learn more about the virus.

Of course we are concerned about the current small pockets of community transmission, particularly in Sydney. These represent our biggest risk and if there is significant growth in community transmission, additional measures will be immediately implemented to bring about control.

The Commonwealth is working very closely with the states and territories through the National Cabinet and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to ensure our response is as effective as possible.

We are working very hard to source additional coronavirus tests and ventilators and have supported the primary health care sector by expanding telehealth services to ensure GPs and other health professionals are able to continue consultations with their patients. Already, after only 14 days (as of Saturday), this has led to more than 550,000 consultations.

On top of this, we will soon start taking delivery of more than 400 million additional masks, as well as additional hand sanitiser, goggles, gloves and gowns.  These new supplies build on the 3.1 million masks distributed to states and territories over the past week.

Almost 200 fever clinics have now been set up to isolate and care for people diagnosed with COVID-19.

We are well advanced in our planning with the states and territories to deal with an expected surge in demand for the treatment of coronavirus cases – with the number of intensive care unit beds to more than double to meet this demand, if required.

It is important people recognise that governments and health practitioners can only do so much to combat COVID-19. The truth is everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of this coronavirus.

There are three key things everyone can do.

  • Practise good hygiene. This means thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet. It is vital people cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a tissue – and if it is with a tissue, that the tissue is put straight into a bin.
  • Secondly, all Australians should be practising social distancing. People should remain at home unless it is absolutely vital to go elsewhere, and when in public, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people.
  • Thirdly, it is imperative that people self-isolate for 14 days if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of the coronavirus or if they have arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March. That means, simply, stay at home.

Realistically, a vaccine for the coronavirus is many months away. In the meantime, Australians can be reassured we are constantly monitoring COVID-19 developments – both domestically and abroad – and adapting what we do to minimise its spread.

I urge all Australians to keep calm, keep informed and keep connected.

Original published at the Australian Department of Health

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36 Responses to A message from the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly

  1. Some History

    It’s about saving lives and livelihoods.

    With hundreds of thousands shoved onto the unemployment line in the blink of an eye, could he please explain what Saving Livelihoods™ means?

  2. Rafe Champion

    Please find someone with a different name to be the Chief Health Officer!
    Who is taking Paul Kelly seriously these days?

  3. tombell

    The risk is COVID-19 would rear its ugly head again, more aggressive than before.

    so the shelter in place BS is what? Permanent? I mean how can we be sure – particularly with winter approaching (GOT anyone?) – that a more aggressive Wuhan virus won’t rear its “ugly head”?
    Trust me – I’m a public servant getting my full whack and some…..

  4. EvilElvis

    It’s about saving lives and livelihoods.

    No. They certainly don’t go hand in hand at this stage. Unless of course it’s public service livelihoods.

    Ahhhhahahahaha.

  5. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Get those people isolated in petri-dish sealed aircon hotels by interviewing them re their prospects of home isolation. Tag them with a red bracelet which can only be removed after 14 days and which will indicate them as breaking self-isolation if they are seen out and about.

    This should have been done for all incoming travellers, leaving strongly supervised isolation only for the recalcitrant few.

    Like those doctors who ignored the ban.

  6. Up The Workers!

    Well said.

    I agree with most of what D.C.M.O. Paul Kelly has to say.

    He speaks with the authority of his high position.

    Unfortunately that authority is vastly diluted by the fact that science and scientists generally have stood back and allowed the liars, fraudsters and carpet-baggers of the Left, gillard that “97% of all scientists agree” with the Humpty Dumptyism of gerbil worming/rising sea levels/carbon/carbon dioxide as a poison gas/climate crisis/climate change/coming Ice Age/ pollution/over-population/nuclear armageddon/starvation/resource-exploitation/meteor-collision/Donald Trump/plague/pestilence, /locusts, /striking down of the first-born, etc.

    The B.O.M. (Bureau of Mendacity) is busily falsifying the historical temperature data to fit in with this week’s latest Leftard dogma on Apocalyptic Catastropharianism and the C.S.I.R.O. (Crap Science Inspired by Religious Oratory) is about as scientifically authoritative these days as is L. Ron Hubbard.

    Maybe some credibility could be clawed back for genuine science and genuine scientists, if the Leftards were all purged from our Universities and press and heavy penalties were applied for the deliberate gillarding of science.

    The message that people like Paul Kelly (the D.C.M.O. one – not the B.S.A. Leftard one) is trying to get out is too important to have it tarred with the grotty lavatory-brush of bogus Leftard Humpty Dumpty science.

  7. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Get. Them. Out.

    These hotels will replicate cruise ship conditions. Also noted that the Australian military are considered immune. Many were not wearing masks.

  8. max

    Poverty is the biggest killer we have.

  9. EvilElvis

    Get. Them. Out.

    These hotels will replicate cruise ship conditions.

    Lizzie, you assume the powers that be don’t know this and dont want this.

  10. Roger

    We have imposed strong border measures. International travel has been banned, with a few exceptions.

    A pity you didn’t do it sooner.

    Then only tertiary education and tourism would have needed a bail out and not the whole economy.

  11. C.L.

    Australia is a free country …

    … whose entire population is under house arrest.

    No health experts dispute what the problem is nor how to address this outbreak.

    This is a banal statement that doesn’t actually say anything. Yes, the experts agree the problem is a new flu. Yes, there are accepted norms for treating a flu strain.

    But “experts” completely misread the meaning, extent, data and normative corollaries of Italy and Wuhan. They were completely wrong about the CFR.

    I will say this for Kelly, his style of communication is superior to other officials’. He is speaking to people respectfully and not hectoring them.

  12. Charles

    We need to be testing temperatures, every time someone walks into a shop, or a public building, school, work, etc. they should be tested, and if they are above the safe standard temperature (37.5 C) then off to the doctor to get a full Coronaviruis test.

    Elevated temperatures is one way that even asymptomatic people with the virus can be identified, and with digital thermometers thousands of tests on people can be done every day for virtually nothing. Anyone who is identified gets isolated and taken out of the community for a while, but we cannot do this by relying on blood prick or swab tests, it is too slow and expensive.

    This way we can resume our normal lives like they have in Taiwan, it’s not hard it just takes some wit and imagination to see how the strategy could work. Medical authorities have done a good job so far (with the exception of the airports, and why aren’t disembarking passengers temperature screened? It wouldn’t be that hard.), they now have an opportunity to cover themselves in glory and get us back to functioning instead of rotting here in our homes.

  13. Roger

    These new supplies build on the 3.1 million masks distributed to states and territories over the past week.

    I’m reliably informed that medical staff at one Qld hospital are being limited to one mask which they must keep in a zip locked plastic bag labelled with their name. Goggles are a requirement for theatre attendance but are simply unavailable. Hand sanitiser is rationed.

    Why are we so critically short of basic & essential medical equipment?

    What exactly happened to the national emergency stockpile of these items that is meant to fill the gap in the supply chain in a time of emergency?

    If 3.1mn masks were distributed to states and terriroties over the last week, why are staff on one Qld hospital reduced to the above described measures? Where are the masks going? Are state authorities in fact “hoarding” them out of fear in much the same way as members of the public are hoarding tp?

  14. C.L.

    Charles, your proposal would swamp every hospital in the country within an hour.

  15. Iampeter

    Some people have asked why we haven’t imposed a blanket lockdown like other countries have done.

    Also because the countries that have had the most success tackling this haven’t needed to impose any lockdowns or even travel restrictions. Almost like these are worse than useless actions to take in this situation.

    Almost like we shouldn’t be following a dictatorship’s lead on things like this…

  16. Roger

    Elevated temperatures is one way that even asymptomatic people with the virus can be identified…

    An elevated temp is a symptom. Asymptomatic means just that – no symptoms.

  17. jupes

    Australia is a free country …

    … where going to the beach is a crime.

  18. Wayne From Perth

    “And anyone who thinks we can impose restrictions for two or three weeks and then lift them and we can return to our normal lives – free of coronavirus – is misguided.

    The risk is COVID-19 would rear its ugly head again, more aggressive than before.”

    So we are only deferring the inevitable?

  19. Tel

    By the time health experts in these countries recognised what was occurring , COVID-19 was out of control and spreading like wildfire. This is the reason why hospitals in these countries have struggled to cope with people with severe forms of the disease.

    That’s outright bullshit. The WHO was notified by two different groups on 31 Dec last year and they sat on their hands and then some weeks later said “no evidence” that it was contagious, then a week after that finally admitted the truth. Then the Australian government sat on their hands a while longer.

    The above statement is blatantly dishonest arse covering. Why should this man be taken seriously?

    No health experts dispute what the problem is nor how to address this outbreak. It’s about saving lives and livelihoods. The only dispute is how hard to go imposing measures, and when to impose them.

    What about the 30 doctors who skipped through quarantine on the way in?

    They seem to have a slightly different opinion about the best way to handle this.

  20. Diogenes

    I am now sticking in my ears & going la-la-la-la-la whenever these clowns prontificate.

    I had sympathy for the police – no more. Today they ‘raided’ the local shopping centre, in an area of already high unemployment that has been hit hard and handing out 1k fines. Couples that live together, sleep in the same bed and arrived in the same were fined for being too close to each other in public. No didn’t happen to us, but I saw it happening.

  21. Roger

    Couples that live together, sleep in the same bed and arrived in the same were fined for being too close to each other in public.

    That’s ridiculous.

    Have the police been set targets by their commanders, perhaps?

  22. C.L.

    Today they ‘raided’ the local shopping centre, in an area of already high unemployment that has been hit hard and handing out 1k fines.

    Fines for what?

  23. DHS

    Also because the countries that have had the most success tackling this haven’t needed to impose any lockdowns or even travel restrictions.

    Yep.

    The hysterics should prove their point by running *all cause* deaths in each country before and during the “pandemic” and comparing countries in lockdown vs those who aren’t insane.

  24. I see no evidence that this guy, (or our leaders), gives more than a tinker’s cuss about people’s livelihoods. Destroy tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs and then hand out crumbs to the unemployed is more their style.

    The first travel limitations were announced by Morrison on 1 February. Here we are MORE THAN EIGHT WEEKS LATER, and NOW they decide to introduce checks and quarantine for incoming travellers.

    These authorities seem to have retained the confidence of a lot of people. After the Ruby Princess, and the uncontrolled bedlam in our airport arrivals halls in the last few weeks, they do not deserve it.

  25. Diogenes

    Fines for what?

    Being too close

  26. Iampeter

    “And anyone who thinks we can impose restrictions for two or three weeks and then lift them and we can return to our normal lives – free of coronavirus – is misguided.

    The risk is COVID-19 would rear its ugly head again, more aggressive than before.”

    So we are only deferring the inevitable?

    My understanding is that COVID spreads very efficiently in humans and is therefore here to stay. It’s going to be with us just like the seasonal cold and flu viruses.

    The danger of restrictions isn’t virus related. It’s that too many restrictions will cause irreparable damage.
    E.g. if they shut down rent and mortgage payments everyone will bail from the housing and related industries overnight. There’s no undoing that.
    That will then trigger the rest of the economy totally collapsing.
    We’ll become a third world country in a day basically.

    So the danger is our unemployable, unqualified, no life experience, clueless career politicians or public servants, cooking up some hair brained restriction like this and ending industrial civilization in Australia.

  27. Castle Wolfenstein

    I like the comment that Australia is a free country whose entire population is under house arrest.

  28. MACK

    Suicides in the US and Europe rose 5 percent during the GFC. That’s the equivalent of about 150 extra annually in Australia. There have been fewer than 20 deaths from the virus so far, and about 25 in intensive care, so we’ll likely get to 50 or so. As Ioannis says, there is a real risk the cure could be worse than the disease.

  29. Castle Wolfenstein

    Dr Kelly says:

    “ …anyone who thinks we can [a] impose restrictions for two or three weeks and then lift them and we can [b] return to our normal lives – [c] free of coronavirus – is misguided.”

    Well, ok, no one could argue that a, b and c are all possible. But it quite plausible, even probable, that in a number of weeks it will be reasonable to lift some of the more Draconian restrictions.

    Professor Ioannidis explains that we data needed to establish a reliable numerator (number of deaths) relative to the critical denominator (number infected).

    Let’s hope a study is being done and the results are in around Easter and they reflect the proportions we have seen in Iceland and on Diamond Princess.

    Will we still be in lockdown?

    BTW I downloaded the Department of Health Corona app onto my iPad but had to delete it because it gave my device a virus … the BS virus.

  30. Colin Suttie

    “No health experts dispute what the problem is nor how to address this outbreak.”
    Why are we letting blatant nonsense like this out unchallenged?

  31. Robber Baron

    My local shopping strip is as deserted as it was at the peak of the 1991 ‘recession we had to have’; a month earlier a new cafe had just opened and was buzzing with patrons.

    Now, the owner is making take-away coffees and looking decidedly nervous. The Yoga studio; closed. The lady waxing salon; closed. The bar; closed. The two pizza restaurants; take-away only. The fish’n’chip shop; take-away only. The clothes salon: shut. The hairdresser; shut. The hipster barber shop; closed. The only shops doing a roaring trade are the pharmacy and grocery store. There is now no trouble finding a car parking space.

    This is Morrison’s legacy. The depression we didn’t have to have.

  32. Rockdoctor

    That’s outright bullshit. The WHO was notified by two different groups on 31 Dec last year and they sat on their hands and then some weeks later said “no evidence” that it was contagious, then a week after that finally admitted the truth. Then the Australian government sat on their hands a while longer.

    From what I was told first hand from someone who was on a Jetstar Asia flight Bangkok to Singapore on January 6 full of mainland Chinese coughing, spluttering & spitting into sick bags, I concur. My colleague then some time later after returning to the Hunter came down with the same symptoms of a mild case but because he trusted the WHO on the claim that human to human contact wasn’t possible didn’t seek help for what he thought was just the flu other than taking a few days off work till the worst passed. How many others did likewise because Winnie the Pooh was trying to save face and the WHO rolled over for a tickle?

  33. David Brewer

    And anyone who thinks we can impose restrictions for two or three weeks and then lift them and we can return to our normal lives – free of coronavirus – is misguided.

    That statement is true in the sense that a 3-week lockdown won’t obliterate coronavirus, but it’s worrying if it means the deputy chief medical officer is going to recommend continuing the restrictions at current or worse levels indefinitely, which is one way of reading him.

    Has anyone noticed that three weeks ago lockdowns were being touted just to “flatten the curve” – i.e. to slow the infection rate and prevent a sharp peak of cases that would overwhelm ICUs – whereas now we seem to be sliding into the idea that the purpose of lockdowns is to stop anyone getting this thing at all – with the implication that we might as well lock everyone down sine die?

  34. Chris M

    Australia is a free country and everyone is entitled to express an opinion.

    Excellent to hear, thank you. I’ll go back to quiet protesting outside the abortion clinic again.

  35. PeteD

    The idea that the countries who have done best haven’t imposed travel restrictions is fanciful ba.

    But it is true that there are a few places (like Taiwan) which haven’t locked down everything, because they caught most cases at the airport.

  36. Successful, inexpensive treatment Covid19. Why are governments shutting down economies all over the world instead of mass producing and distributing this treatment whereby a French study led by Prof. Dr. Didier Raoult and his team shows that a combination of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Azithromycin are effective in treating COVID-19 patients. One doctor in New York adds zinc sulphate. May not be suitable for cardiac patients. Also, Prof. Zhong Nanshan, Chinese scientist, epidemiologist and pulmonologist who discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003 on benefits of the oxygen-hydrogen gas mix inhalation in Chinese patients. A water electrolyser system generating hydrogen-oxygen gas mixture by distilled water electrolysis would be effective and cheaper than expensive ventilators.

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