Away from Victoria and Australia for a moment:
“Asked what it’s been like for insiders trying to get information about the president and the virus spreading through the government, a senior White House official told Intelligencer, “That’s easy. We don’t get any.”
New York Magazine has published some inside information on the White House cluster. You can read it in full here), but there are some alarming claims worth pulling out.
The Intelligencer column cites White House sources, saying no one is being told anything about the growing cluster inside their workplace.
“There are hundreds and hudreds of people who work on-complex, some who have families with high risk family members. Since this whole thing started, not one email has gone out to tell employees what to do or what’s going on,” said one senior official.
The rest of the piece notes discrepancies in timelines given by the White House, and quotes medical experts, saying the admission that Trump is taking Remdesivir suggests he is suffering moderate or severe Covid-19.
Dan Andrews’ press conference ends
That’s it for the Andrews press conference. We’ll have a full wrap from Calla Wahlquist shortly.
Aged care numbers are dropping. Is Brett Sutton confident that the outbreak in the sector is under control?
The numbers are under control. Again, there’s a fragility there because every single new case needs to be doing the right thing, testing as soon as they get symptoms and isolating if they’re working in those settings.
There’s a real awareness now for everyone who’s working in an active outbreak to look out for residents who present new symptoms and of course for any of those staff members who develop symptoms to be isolating, testing. So that’s happening and that gives you a much greater sense of control. But it’s fragile.”
Sutton is asked the question that was directed at Andrews earlier: how confident are you Victoria can almost have its rolling average within two weeks?
“Obviously some of the numbers on a daily basis have clearly been driven by our existing clusters and outbreaks,” he says.
If we can get really good control of those in the next few days … then those numbers come off our future daily numbers. So instead of 12 cases with six linked to outbreaks and clusters today, we should just see six cases.”
Q: Do you think on grand final day we might be in position to allow bigger public gatherings or pubs to watch the game?
Andrews: I wish I could provide you with an answer to that question today. What I can say is we’ll have … people will have a clearer picture once we get to 18th, 19th, around that period which is just a couple of weeks away, we’ll be in a better position to give people a clearer sense of what the following week and the weeks ahead will look like. If I could say it now, of course I would.
Q: That date is 14 days away from tomorrow. Are you confident that the 14-day average can get down from 11.9 to five in just two weeks?
A: As confident as you can be. You can’t be certain, that’s not the nature of this virus … Hopefully to the question in relation to people gathering for the grand final – hopefully we can finish up in a situation where we have got arrangements that are pretty close to what’s happening in regional Victoria. There’ll be a big focus on outdoors but may be some inside. It’s just bit too early for us to be able to say now.
Ninth day of no community cases in NSW
For the ninth consecutive day, the state of New South Wales has reported no recent cases of locally transmitted Covid‑19, the health department has just announced.
In the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday, there were two cases reported among returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to 4,045.
Since the start of the pandemic more than half the state’s cases are likely to have stemmed from an overseas source, the department said. There have been 393 cases with no known source.
Remember the apocalypse before this one, the summer bushfires? Well the time for prepping for the next season is fast approaching. Andrews says they’ve been asked consistently about people who want to travel to the regions to start working on their property to get ready. He says he’ll have more to say on that soon.
Andrews and Sutton are asked if the Covid safe app helped track down any of the cases in the current clusters.
Andrews says he’s downloaded the app, and asks that others do too. The question is repeated.
Andrews says he’s “not interested” in talking about the app.
“I’d rather spend my time and the time of our audience today and everyday simply commending to every Victorian, please download the app.”
Andrews is asked to explain the following:
“On Friday, we learnt that one of the nine workers who tested positive for coronavirus while working in hotel quarantine between July 27 and the end of August had been working shifts at an aged care facility and at the Grand Chancellor hotel … This was happening at a point where you told hundreds of thousands of Victorians that they couldn’t go to work because we were trying to spread the limit of coronavirus.”
It’s not known if the person was infectious at that time, which Andrews says is a key question.
“We’re doing everything that we can to limit movement. Sometimes, you can’t get it 100%. You can’t reduce that to zero, but the key point there is whether the person was infectious,” Andrews says.
“The program has been reset since then, and that’s a process which takes time.
“I dare say that you know, in any workforce … even despite some pretty concerted efforts, there may well be a very small number of people who, for a period of time … may have worked in their own transition period … They may have worked at more than one place.”
Asked if they think it’s justified to have regional Victoria – an area 23 times the size of metro Melbourne – on restrictions for just three cases, Sutton says: “Clearly we do.”
He says there is movement across the regions, and it includes border towns.
“We need regional Victoria to be in a position where it can have that movement, potentially across to other jurisdictions.”
Among the infected healthcare workers there are 17 aged care workers, 14 nursing staff and one medical practitioner.
Sutton says this is in line with the relative split throughout the outbreak, with aged care and nursing staff making up most of the cases.
Among today’s new cases there are three linked to the Butchers Club at Chadstone shopping centre (total now: 20) and three linked to the medical centre in Ashwood.
The Mitchell shire case is linked to the Butchers Club outbreak, and Sutton says regional Victoria will remain at risk through the movement of essential workers, but everyone is working to protect the region from new cases.
“The numbers are a bit high today but the trend is on track.”
There is only one person in ICU on a ventilator and three in intensive care.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton now:
“Outdoor activities are actually fine if you do them safely,” he said.
“I know we focused on rule breakers yesterday but I have seen many examples of people doing absolutely the right thing, enjoying the outdoors.
“We know that it is good for emotional wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, so it is important to get out. But the rules are no more than two households coming together or no more than five people, or indeed your entire household as a collective, and keeping your distance from other groups.”