Australia’s outgoing chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has said Melbourne’s accelerating coronavirus situation was what the national cabinet predicted, adding they’re “very, very comfortable” with the way things are going.
In his final day in the role – ahead of becoming the Secretary of the Health Department next month – Professor Murphy said Victoria was currently taking the “lion’s share” of Australia’s coronavirus cases at the moment, but that authorities had “predicted” and “planned for” the possibility of another outbreak.
“We’ve also, as we’ve said, can’t be sure that there isn’t small amounts of virus circulating in parts of the country,” he told reporters at his final press conference today.
“So the outbreaks, mini-outbreak we have seen in Victoria, is what we predicted, what we planned for. When I took to the national cabinet the plan for reopening, removing restrictions, we assured national cabinet that the likelihood of outbreaks were high and we were ready to respond to them.
“That’s exactly what the Victorian health authorities are doing right now.”
Prof Murphy commended the Victorian Government’s response in the face of the outbreak, which has involved a suburban testing blitz in Melbourne that will give entire suburbs the opportunity to be tested for coronavirus over the next week.
“They have a huge team. They’re contact tracing over a thousand people. They’re testing extraordinary numbers of people. And that’s the way to bring a localised outbreak under control,” he said.
While Victoria has reported 10 consecutive days of double-digit case increases, Prof Murphy said it was “reassuring” that the daily numbers hadn’t been a “major escalation”.
He also warned, not for the first time, Australia would likely see more outbreaks until a vaccine is successfully developed and made available.
“We may see more such outbreaks, we’re very likely to see more such outbreaks, not just in Victoria – it could be anywhere in the country. We’re prepared, we’re responding and we’re very, very comfortable with the way things are going.”
Echoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s own words, Prof Murphy said despite Melbourne’s outbreaks, Australia remains “on track with our reopening and we remain prepared to respond to outbreaks as and when they occur”.