Daniel Andrews on the modelling – and how the government and advisors are also looking at the real time data:
As I have sent a number of times, and you can flip around what I have said as well. If the tale of this thing is more stubborn than what we hope, we resolve the judgement to make this is as good as it is going to get and adjust things for that. The opposite is true also.
If we are confident we have an accurate picture,by the test numbers, that is why it is important to get test numbers get to a point where they are no longer good proxy as to how much the virus is out there, it makes those decisions really, really tough.
But, of course, if we finish up ahead of schedule, we will adjust things and say that the appropriate time but, again, if only it was only one day period, that is why it is rolling. You need to see patterns that are truly representative of what is happening out there. The moment we believe that, without risking it being a short-term thing, we would update.
Q: Just on the consultations, I was pleased to hear that you met with supermarket heads this week.
Daniel Andrews: I did.
Q: I think there’s been 150 briefings with industry before the roadmap was released.
Andrews: Something like that.
Q: How many were you at?
Andrews: Those matters have been appropriately delegated to the Minister for jobs and industry recovery. I’ve got one or two other things to get on with, so…
Q: I guess, if you were fighting a fire, you would get out there, you would talk to people on the front line, you would talk to healthcare workers, business owners…
Andrews: I’m very pleased that you have taken that to that analogy the fact is – I didn’t go to too many town hall meetings during the fires, I left that to those who were in charge of the operational response just like they haven’t necessarily been spending all of my time. I lead a big team, a capable team and they have engaged with industry in unprecedented terms.
That’s not to say, though, if I could be so bold as to point this out, consultation and getting the answer you wanted are not always the same thing. You can be listened to, and people have been, but that doesn’t mean that everybody gets exactly what they want. Many would like us to open up yesterday.
Q: Sure, I get that. Some business owners have told me that they were told by ministers the zero case strategy had been decided before consultation began.
Andrews: That’s not accurate in any way. There have been detailed consultation that we will continue to have consultations, they have informed our decision-making. For instance, if you look at regional Victoria, I think most restaurant is, publicans, cafe owners didn’t expect that there would be able to be 20 patrons inside, that came from feedback as well as detailed public health advice.
…I think went into this in some detail the other day, essentially we will be guided by the numbers and the narrative behind those numbers in the circumstances behind those numbers and it is too early to be able to predict where we’re going to be next week let alone multiple weeks time.
Q: What else can you tell us about clusters? How many links are aware of other than that they are all in Casey, and are we talking workplaces or family groups?
Allen Cheng: We are still looking into that, we do think that there are links and they are obviously all in that area. There’s a number of households they are, but I think, we are looking into that and trying to find out where everyone has been so we can make sure the transmission chains are controlled.
Q: Why is it taking so long to establish that?
Cheng: We have 10 new cases in Casey five days ago. We are talking to people all the time and we go back and talk to them again, make sure that it is nothing we have missed, so if you think of, where have you been in the last 14 days and who have you talked to, you know, did you meet this person on that day or the day after, how long did you talk to them, all these things often can take a while and certainly I am not doing contact tracing but when I have spoken to patients it isn’t always easy to get the story out the first time, they have to go back into their phonebook and work out where they have been and who they have been talking to.
Oh – there were more than 14,000 tests yesterday, which is a good number.
Deputy CHO Professor Allen Cheng is asked about today’s case numbers:
28 cases today and I think 14 are linked to known clusters. The cluster, obviously of concern is in Casey and we are looking at that very closely.
We have been working with Monash Health and the local councils and with community leaders, had a meeting last night with them and in addition to all of the clinics that are ready in that area, there are three new pop-up clinics, the Hallam secondary College and the testing site in Noble Park so they really think everybody who has come out to be tested and really encourage anyone, even with mild symptoms, to come out and tested.
Q: How many of the 28 are linked to Casey?
Cheng: There were five cases in Casey yesterday.
Q: Are you approaching this using the new Suburban task force model?
Cheng: Not yet but I think it is a good model for it’s because we are essentially doing that, working with the local councils, Monash health is the local hospital there and talking to community leaders and that is really what we will do once we develop these Suburban centres.
James Merlino is asked about student’s mental health during the pandemic:
There has been a real focus on student health and well-being, and as I have said many times, there have been kids that have thrived under remote learning and others that have suffered under remote learning, whether that is academic or mental health.
So what we made sure is that every school has a dedicated well-being team, but we made it clear that parents understood who is the contact person at each school and there has been real deep engagement supporting kids that are struggling.
We announced ago now, $28.5 million of additional mental health and well-being support, engaging kids that are disengaging.
Our attendance and absence rates have actually been pretty good, but there is a cohort of highly vulnerable children that are struggling and that is why we have had this focus on health and well-being.
What we are able to do, the terrific result we have seen in terms of the numbers in regional Victoria, the advice from our public health experts is we are able to bring the transition from the 12 October to the 5 October and that means that from Monday the 5 October, a one of term four, primary schools, so P-6, they will be able to start the first week of term.
They will make a decision about whether they have their preps on the Monday or the great six the Monday but the transition will happen in that first week.
The secondary schools, we will continue with the settings we have, that is we keep our secondary schools free for assessment and the gap on the Wednesday and for P- 12 schools we will have the primary school children, starting on the Thursday of that first week of term.
We were able to bring, because of the great results in regional Victoria, it meant we could make it a corresponding change.
Victoria to offer free kindy for term 4
Victorian education minister James Merlino has announced some new educational supports:
This package does a number of things.
It helps parents with the cost of fees, ensures kindergarten providers remain viable and, as we think about toe four and the 4-year-old kindergarten kids, it’s a positive transition into primary school 2021.
$30 million of this fund goes to free session kindergartens.
This supports parents with the cost of fees, providing payments of around $500 per child.
Free sessional kindergarten, community-based, school provided kindergarten, for time for across the whole of the state.
This is a really important announcement and builds on what we have already provided to parents through term two and term three.
In terms of vulnerable children, the highly vulnerable children that the Premier identified, and additional $3 million and we are going to be providing an additional five hours of kindergarten for these highly vulnerable kids.
We’re talking about 5% – 7% to go to 4-year-old kindergarten.
We target those services they get a high proportion of disadvantage children.
It would be an opt in but we will be providing that additional five hours of support.
In terms of transition, $4 million to support transitions from kindergarten to primary school, in a normal year, you would have your 4-year-old kids visiting their local schools and engaging in those schools, having a look around, getting comfortable with the school setting.
This is not a normal year so we’re going to flip it and this funding will provide support for teachers to visit the kindergarten providers.
All kindergarten providers will be able to access this site teachers will visit the kindergartens, engage with the children and with the families.
It’s a fairly short update from Daniel Andrews today. He reiterates the higher fines for those attempting to enter regional Victoria without a lawful reason (again, don’t let those sentences become normalised – it should still cause you to balk).
I say this to regional Victorians, the rules of change but there are still rules and it is important that regional Victorians stay vigilant just as we are.
A $5,000 spot fine announcement was made yesterday. Additional spot cars pulled over and checked.
Those reasons are up on the website and are well known. You cannot have people taking this virus as they unnecessarily and illegally travel to regional Victoria.
Every regional Victorian, having done so much to create this sense of absolute optimism, they too need to make sure they remain vigilant, following different rules but rules none the less.
This is a really important step we have taken this week and regional Victoria and it is a clear demonstration to everybody in Melbourne, who I know is it doing it tough, but it is a clear sign, not as a matter of modelling but in real, practical terms, it can get these numbers low … but [we have to] keep them low, and once they are at that level, you can open up.
Daniel Andrews also acknowledges the tragedy of the eight people who died, and their families, as well as everyone who has lost loved ones during the pandemic.
Most of Victoria’s deaths have been from the aged care settings and the overwhelming majority have occurred since May.
Victoria press conference
Daniel Andrews opens on the news there has been just 28 new cases of Covid diagnosed.
That is the first time that the case numbers have been in the 20s since the 24 June.
That is a fantastic outcome and a tribute to the hard work, sacrifice and contribution every single Victorian is making and I want to say thank you and how proud I am and all of us are of the job being done in households, communities, suburbs right across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
This strategy is working, these numbers of falling and this is exactly what we have to do, stay the course, get these numbers low that is what will keep them low.
If we open up when they are too high, they will just get higher and higher.
It is not only inconvenient but deeply frustrating but that is the reality we are facing and we none of us can deny the reality we are facing.
But these are very pleasing numbers today.
In two weeks time, the telehealth Medicare rebates expire.
On that same day, private health insurance premiums are scheduled to increase (after being delayed because of the pandemic)
Chris Bowen wants the government to extend the rebate and stop the health insurance increase:
Labor knows the pandemic is far from over, and supports calls from across the health sector for the items to be extended from 1 October.
Labor has also consistently called for Greg Hunt to reconsider the 2.92% private health insurance premium hike that is due on the same day.
With premiums already up 30% under this Government and many Australians struggling to make ends meet, hospital coverage is now at the lowest level in 14 years.
The Private Health Insurance Act gives the Minister for Health the power to reject premium increases that “would be contrary to the public interest”.
The Minister must now explain why another increase in October would be in the public interest – or cancel that increase altogether.
This report will be very, very interesting.