Health chief on Aussie lockdown
ABC Insiders host David Speers sent Australia's top health expert scrambling during the program Sunday morning, catching them out with some of his questions.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy admitted that Australia could potentially see itself in a lockdown situation similar to Italy.
"One of the things that we know about the virus is that it can affect some parts of the country and not others," he said.
"So you could lock down Sydney but not the whole country?" Speers asked.
"Potentially you could," Prof Murphy replied.
"The Koreans did that for two provinces very successfully, locked them down. Everything is up for consideration."
Australians are expected to know in a matter of hours whether schools and universities will be closed tomorrow, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state leaders receiving advice on the matter from chief medical officers at a national coronavirus cabinet meeting at midday today.
A spokesperson for the PM's Office told news.com.au a decision on whether schools and universities would be open for business tomorrow will be announced straight afterward.
On Insiders, Prof Murphy also assured Australians that public transport would still be running. For now.
"At the moment we are not suggesting people should stop using public transport," he said. "As the situation evolves, this will change. our social distancing measures may well change over time. At the moment we're ahead of the curve."
Parliament would also not be disrupted, despite being a large gathering of people, Mr Murphy explained.
"Parliament is planning to sit next week and are taking measures.
"We're looking at a range of measures to reduce the number of people in the (parliament) building including staff and visitors, school groups are nearly all cancelled now."
.@David_Speers You were both at the meeting .. with Peter Dutton, are you certain you don't have #Coronavirus?— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) March 14, 2020
CMO: No-one can be absolutely certain about everything but all of our advice, internationally, is that the peak infectious period is when you have symptoms. pic.twitter.com/U1ciWn275P
Speers asked Health Minister Greg Hunt and Prof Brendan Murphy if they were both at the meeting with Peter Dutton on Tuesday, who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The two guests confirmed they had, but assured audiences they were not infected.
"No-one can be absolutely certain about everything but all of our advice, internationally, is that the peak infectious period is when you have symptoms," Mr Murphy said.
Speers then hit them with another curveball - "why then yesterday did we see cleaners in Hazmat suits scrubbing the rooms where Peter Dutton had been on Tuesday?" he asked.
.@David_Speers asks why cleaners in Hazmat suits were scrubbing rooms where Peter Dutton had been.— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) March 14, 2020
CMO: I think that was an abundance of caution.@GregHuntMP: .. I'm not aware of any Cabinet involved in that. #Auspol #Insiders pic.twitter.com/OpDbZDQmyO
"I think that was an abundance of caution," Mr Murphy said.
Mr Hunt flat out denied it.
"That wasn't a decision I'm aware of," the health minister said. "I'm not aware of any Cabinet involved in that."
It wasn't the only bombshell the ABC uncovered - Mr Murphy reportedly was seen shaking hands in the green room before the broadcast started.
In the green room waiting to do Insiders....the chief medical officer walks in and shakes the hand of one of the people here. Leading by example... 🙄 #auspol— Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP) March 14, 2020
Just minutes later, Mr Murphy advised viewers to "socially distance" themselves from others if they had recently travelled.
"Keeping a distance of 1.5 metres if possible from people, not close contact so not shaking hands," he said.