Packed audience for COVID-19 Medical Grand Round

A packed John Lindell Theatre has received an update on coronavirus from a panel of Austin Health's experts as part of this week's Medical Grand Round.

Prof Paul Johnson, Deputy Director, Infectious Diseases, said a pandemic occurs when a transmissible infectious 'agent' finds a population with no prior immunity, no vaccine and no effective treatment. 

"This is the third pandemic talk I've given at Austin Health, but SARS and Swine Flu weren't comparable - this is the actual pandemic," Prof Johnson said.

"On average, a person with COVID-19 will infect about 2.5 others."

But Professor Johnson said the serial generation time, or the time between symptoms appearing in a secondary case, is slower for COVID-19 than it is for other infectious diseases like influenza.

"This is important because with COVID-19 you have the potential to chase down a chain of related cases and that's why so much effort is being put into containing the outbreak. If this was an influenza pandemic, it would already be all over," he said.

Director of Infection Control, Dr Jason Kwong, said it's crucial that staff are informed about COVID-19 by reliable sources.

"The general media and social media are sharing different information about the situation and it can be very difficult to know what is the right message," Dr Kwong said.

"Staff need to be aware of communications coming out to them from Austin Health. If we send a message, we need to know it's being received so things are activated."

Other members of the Panel included Prof Christine McDonald, Director of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Dr Katherine Gibney from the Infectious Diseases and Dr David Smallwood.

A full video of the Grand Round session can be found under 'Staff and Manager Updates' here - http://hub/Coronavirus*

*Please note - the COVID-19 presentation starts at 7 minutes 30 seconds.