COVID-19 Update, Sunrise

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Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Minister for Defence

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Nicky Hamer (Minister Reynolds’ Office): +61 437 989 927

Defence Media:

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16 April 2020

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Well a new Rapid Response Group has been set up to increase the number of life-saving ventilators in Australia. Led by the Department of Defence, it will work to boost stocks of invasive ventilators needed for the care of coronavirus patients by bringing together engineering and technology experts.

The group will be investigating ways to upgrade non-invasive ventilators and also how to repurpose other medical machines to meet demand. Joining me now is Defence Minister Linda Reynolds. Morning to you. How soon do you believe this can be achieved?


Well good morning Nat and as the name says, Rapid Response, we are already on the job. This is another example of our wonderful 60,000 men and women in uniform in the ADF, our defence scientists, and 15,000 companies in our defence industry right across our nation coming together to rapidly solve problems. As we know, ventilators globally are in short supply, so we’re throwing the best and brightest we have in Defence at the problem to create more invasive ventilators, which are so important in emergency rooms here in Australia and around the world to deal with COVID-19.

All hail the people of the ADF. This is brilliant. What’s the goal in terms of numbers and how many more ventilators are needed?

Well pretty much as many as possible. Ministers Greg Hunt and Karen Andrews have done an outstanding job boosting the supplies of ventilators and particularly invasive ventilators here in Australia. We can’t be complacent, we do want more but we also want to help our friends and neighbours in our region who are going to be doing it very tough. So this is, again as you said, the great ADF doing what it does best: serving our nation overseas and now right here at home.

NATALIE BARR:                 
These are the ones, if you’re very sick, they put you under and put the tube down.

Moving on and in Tasmania, members of the Defence Force have been brought in to help clean two hospitals after staff and their family were forced into quarantine from that outbreak. How’s that gone?

That has gone extremely well. So we have had a medical team in place of 40 medical personnel for the last couple of days and they’re up and running as of today at Burnie.

NATALIE BARR:                 
So what are they doing at that hospital? Explain what’s happening there at those two hospitals.

Well as you know, Burnie is now in lockdown and in particular their medical staff. So what we’ve done is we’ve provided, along with a Department of Health AUSMAT team, provided medical support to the citizens of Burnie. We have everything there from midwives to all sorts of specialists to help the people of Burnie, while their medical team themselves are in lockdown.

Okay, thank goodness for them. Linda, thanks for explaining it this morning.

Thanks for having me, Nat.

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