I rise to advise the house of the Andrews Labor government’s continued efforts in responding to COVID-19. I was very proud to stand with the Premier this morning at the world-leading Doherty Institute, where the first replication of the COVID-19 virus took place. The Premier and I announced $6 million in funding to extend both the Doherty and Burnett institutes’ work with the CSIRO and researchers from across Victoria to improve testing, develop new treatment responses and develop a vaccine. This funding will also enable the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, based at the Doherty, to meet increased demand for COVID-19 testing. Victoria’s health and medical research sector are world leaders, and this funding will make potentially a world of difference in the global efforts that researchers and scientists all around the world are making at the moment to respond to this international challenge.
There have now been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, and the good news is that seven of those individuals have fully recovered and have been able to be released from isolation. One further case is in hospital, and a ninth case was well enough to be discharged from hospital and is now recovering at home and is in isolation there. With two cases of local transmission now confirmed in New South Wales, it is only a matter of time until that occurs in Victoria. I want to assure the house and the Victorian community that the Andrews Labor government is working very closely with all other governments across Australia to respond to this likely pandemic. The Victorian government and the Victorian health system are working around the clock to keep our community safe. Just today my department is convening a meeting with the CEOs of our major hospitals to discuss our planning going forward. We also want to ensure that the community is receiving reliable, up-to-date advice, and this is why we have established a 24/7 public hotline staffed by registered nurses to provide support and advice to the public, and we will continue to do that. We have a website, and we have evidence-based information in other languages as well.