Dr Andrew Rochford tells Ftizy & Wippa "We need to buy time" on coronavirus | radioinfo

Dr Andrew Rochford tells Ftizy & Wippa "We need to buy time" on coronavirus

Friday 13 March, 2020
With the world in a state of hysteria thanks to Coronavirus, Fitzy & Wippa brought in Dr Andrew Rochford to give an experts down low on the situation.

Dr Rochford says the biggest issue is the health system being overloaded as that would lead to an increase in deaths.

Hence why precautions are important, stopping events with large crowds, community hygiene etc, this helps to curb the number of people who will get infected and therefore helping the health system to cope.

But Dr Rochford says you don’t need to go to emergency if you have symptoms of a cold, only if you have been in contact with someone who has corona virus, or if you have travelled to risk areas recently.
Dr Rochford answers questions on:
  • Is it dangerous for pregnant women?
  • Should we be cancelling all events and social gatherings?
  • Travel Advice
  • When should we get tested
  • What’s  next for coronavirus
  • Where does Australia stand and what can we do as individuals   

Is it dangerous for pregnant women?
Dr Andrew Rochford “In more than 80% of cases it is a very mild disease. So there is a high likelihood that there’s a lot of people out there that don’t even know they have it.
So that’s what happened  in places like Italy and initially in China, so in the 126 countries that now have a confirmed case, you cannot believe that every single case reported is how many cases of coronavirus there actually is”

Sarah McGilvray “What about pregnancy? Because Wippa‘s got a wife that’s due in a week, Matt de Groots wife is pregnant..”
Dr Andrew Rochford “Well they’re saying that children weren’t getting it but they’re saying now that kids can catch it but again, with children it’s a mild disease. Newborn babies have a immune system that is still trying to develop itself so common sense would suggest that they going to be more risk and also with pregnant women there can be some issues with their immune systems”
Should we be cancelling all events and social gatherings?
WIppa “Things like cancelling the Grand Prix, empty stadiums, no games. Is that the right way forward?”

Dr Andrew Rochford “There’s this whole idea of what’s known as flattening the curve when it comes to it epidermic. So when epidermic has a curve, so basically what that means is: if you can imagine a graph, on one side is a number of cases going up and on the bottom is the amount of time, so basically the curve goes out very quickly when a whole bunch of people get that virus at the same time, like Italy. Now the problem with an epidemic like that is that at a certain point on the curve the health system becomes overwhelmed, there’s just not enough doctors, enough beds, or ventilators. So then you start to see an increase in the death rate, and increase in the number of people that are very sick. Not necessarily because the virus is got worse but just because the health system can’t keep up. So the idea of cancelling events, not shaking hands, washing our hands, trying to get a bit of a social distance is that you flatten the curve – so that the upswing; the number of cases in a short period of time is less. The epidemic tends to last a little bit longer but you never get to the point where the health system is overloaded. And that’s a lot of what the world health organisation is trying to get countries to do. They’re trying to get us to understand as a community that we can all do something to lessen the impact”
Dr Andrew Rochford “A lot of the times the symptoms will just feel like it’s a bit of a cold but if you get it you will give it to 3 people, those people will then give it to 3 people, they will give it to 3 people and very quickly it will go from you to people who are actually vulnerable.
Travel Advice
Wippa “What about getting on aeroplanes? Because there’s a lot of people coming up for Easter, there’s travel. What do you think about that, domestically and internationally?”

Dr Andrew Rochford “Again we need to continue to go about our day to day business but there’s things you can do to protect yourself. Which comes down to hand hygiene, we tend to touch our face a lot. Today, try to concentrate on how many times you touch your face, you do it a lot. So touching your face is something you can do something about. A lot of people wearing masks but that protects you to others, not others to you. But again it’s about trying to reduce your risks.”
When to get tested

Dr Andrew Rochford “There is a criteria for people who are high-risk you should go and get tested. That is if you have travelled to an area that has the known coronavirus, as well as being exposed to somebody who is confirmed to have it. So in the case of David Campbell, he fits those criteria, because he’s been with Rita. If you haven’t been in that situation, you don’t need to get tested. Everybody who has the symptoms of a cold does not need to go to hospital, because that is the moment when we start to overwhelm hospitals”
What’s  next for coronavirus

Fitzy “What kind of period are we talking here before we come out the other side? It is a month, is it a couple of months? How does it work?”
Dr Andrew Rochford “What’s the tipping point for when this all ends? Which is a question that everyone is asking. Let’s just put it in perspective with things that have occurred: the USA shut down anything coming in from Europe, it’s shut down all its major professional events. Those are significant events, now the reasons why that is happening is that they are trying to flatten the curve, they are trying to make sure the health system isn’t overcome.  The reason why that’s happening, is that they are trying to buy time. We need to buy time for the virus to slow down and for vaccinations and other forms of treatment and therapies to catch up because ultimately this happens a lot, so a cold virus or influenza a virus will spread worldwide but a lot of the time it’s not new so there’s a percentage of the population that’s already had it that has an immunity so we never get pandemic levels. The difference with this virus is that none of us have been exposed to it so that’s why it’s moving so fast”
Where does Australia stand and what can we do

Wippa “Are we ahead of the pack?” 
Dr Andrew Rochford “We have some things on our side, we are an island, we were very quick to slow down the movement in to the country. There is some evidence of people to people spread within the country, so we move to the next stage which in a really simple manner is containment and mitigation. Containment is; let’s identify as many people as we can who have had exposure, make sure they’re positive and isolate them to make sure they don’t spread to other people. Mitigation is when we start looking at ‘what are those things we can do to stop mass spread’: social events, sporting events etc, each and everyone of us taking responsibility for washing our hands, and distancing ourselves from each other. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t shake your hand!”

In other Corona Virus news, web providers are tracking Internet usage patterns globally for changed usage patterns and virus related scams.

As more people work from home, peak traffic in impacted regions has increased, on average, approximately 10%, according to Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare.

"In Italy, which has imposed a nationwide quarantine, peak Internet traffic is up 30%. Traffic patterns have also shifted so peak traffic is occurring earlier in the day in impacted regions. None of these traffic changes raise any concern for us, Cloudflare's network is well provisioned to handle significant spikes in traffic...

"We are monitoring for any changes in cyberthreats. While we have seen more phishing attacks using the Coronavirus as a lure, we have not seen any significant increase in attack traffic or new threats."

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Anthony The Koala
13 March 2020 - 5:41pm
This article raises the issues that journalists must ask questions in the medical event described by the WHO, as a pandemic, https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---11-march-2020.

On the 12th March 2020, the SMH reported that the the Chief Medical Officer of NSW, Dr Kerry Chant said that 1.5 million in NSW may be infected with the COVID-19 virus. The SMH is not the only source. The ABC's radio and ABC24's reported this.


The figure of 1.5 million people in NSW being infected is staggering. NOT ONE JOURNALIST FROM THE MEDIA ASKED THE QUESTIONS: (i) How long will it take for 1.5 million people to be infected and (ii) what are the risk management procedures to avoid being one of the 1.5 million people.

For example "The Drum" 12-03-2020 on ABC-HD and ABC24 had two professionals; a GP Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, and a biological mathematician Prof. James McCaw from the University of Melbourne. The latter was an expert in the mathematical modelling of the spreading of diseases, source https://findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/profile/4554-james-mccaw .

Mathematical modelling of disease is an important discipline assisting heads of health departments and hospitals in planning and dealing with the COVID-19 virus.

While "Fitzy" and "Whippa" asked Dr Rochford such questions, the panel of "The Drum" failed to ask in-depth questions to the expert number cruncher and advisor to health departments.

When the number of infections increase, it will be impossible to report all incidents if there is expected to be 1.5 million infections in NSW alone as reported to the SMH and ABC by the NSW Chief Medical Officer.

According to the SMH report, the cause of an infection will be by an infected person making contact with two people. Then those two infected people will each infect two people. The pattern repeats until 1.5 million people are infected. While it was possible to report incidents of infection at a hospital, aged care facility or school or people arriving from high-risk countries infecting others,as the number of infections increase, it will be impossible for the media to report the all incidents of infection.

However it does not abrograte the media's responsibility on the current COVID-19 situation. In addition from "Fitzy and Whippa" show, there have been questions and answer sessions on other stations including the various presenters on 2GB and 2BL (ABC702) and RN.

To illustrate "Fitzy" in the above transcript asked Dr Rochford that it is unknown when we will "...come to the other side..." of the disease.

Nevertheless the media failed to ask the questions to the NSW Chief Medical Officer how long will it take for an infected person to infect two people and how close must these two people be in contact with the infected person.

One method of minimising risk is to wash hands thoroughly for the duration of two renditions of "Happy Birthday" is a start to minimising the risk of infection.

Another way of minimising risk of infection is to avoid attending non-essential gatherings greater than 500 as mentioned on Richard Glover's program on 2BL (ABC702) at 1606. At 1634, it was Sydney's Royal Easter Show in April has been cancelled.

In general at 1700 on ABC News,the Federal Government through our Prime Minister on advice from senior health chiefs informed the nation to not attend non-essential mass gatherings of 500 people or greater. That too is also a start.

But in the normal discourse of transacting with others via public transport, being in a queue, going shopping and other kinds of human transactions, the media failed to ask questions on (i) how close and (ii) how long contact between one person and another person in order to minimise risk.

When it comes to the normal discourse of life, it is not enough for the NSW Chief Medical Officer as per SMH report and ABC reports of a typical infected person experiencing mild symptoms.

People live in households whose other occupants are more susceptible to being affected by the virus such as those with heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes OR even being a frail aged person.

Consequently journalists must ask the questions about minimising the risk of infection when it comes to (i) distance between people and (ii) duration of contact with other people in the normal discourse of life.

This is especially so when households may consist of healthy people and those aged frail people and/or people with existing conditions.

Thank you,
Anthony of Belfield
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