WHITTLESEA, Australia — Australia will continue to be at risk from coronavirus outbreaks until there is high vaccination coverage, federal and state health officials have warned.
A major tracing exercise is underway in Victoria after revealing two men, a woman, and a child from the same family from the Whittlesea area tested positive to Covid-19.
One of the men — described as “quite infectious” — had presented to a testing center when he displayed symptoms.
The Victorian government is not ruling in or out a lockdown as officials seek to track down contacts.
“We will always be at risk until we have a high vaccination coverage,” the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said on May 24.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly claims that Australia’s strong track record containing coronavirus could come unstuck very quickly, particularly with the onset of winter.
“Please don’t hesitate to get your vaccine,” he said.
Kelly further claims it was important to look for as many incentives as possible to get people vaccinated.
He is open to novelty measures such as cash lotteries, and product discounts are seen overseas.
“At the moment, we know there is some hesitancy, particularly in the 50 to 69-year-old age group. We are rolling out extremely well in the 70s. So there is something we need to consider there,” said Kelly.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged one possible incentive, allowing those vaccinated to cross state and territory borders even if they are in lockdown.
But he rejected the suggestion it was a form of internal “passport.”
“It would be very helpful if people who had been fully vaccinated would be exempt from those restrictions and would be able to move across the borders,” he said in the parliament on May 25.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese claims that the idea was unworkable.
“What are you going to do — have passport police set up between Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast?” he said.
“They have two jobs, roll out the vaccine and fix up quarantine. On both of them, they have failed, and they have failed dismally.”
Kelly has written to all General Practitioners with the latest advice on vaccine side-effects to reduce hesitancy and get more people through clinic doors.
About 3.6 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have so far been administered across the country through a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs.
The number of vaccinated disability care residents has been revised up to almost 6000 from fewer than 1000 a week ago.
The overall national number is still well short of what the government was hoping for, but the rollout could soon receive a shot in the arm.
The government is promising two million Pfizer doses will arrive in Australia each week from the start of October.
This could see every Australian who wants protection from Covid-19 fully immunized by the end of this year.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Pallavi Mehra. Map by Urvashi Makwana)
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