AUSTRALIA will transition from trying to suppress COVID-19 to living with the disease — once enough of the population is vaccinated.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week announced a four-phase plan to transition Australia from its first phase of virus suppression to a fourth phase of something resembling life as it was pre-pandemic.
Each new phase will be triggered when Australia hits a threshold of vaccinated people.
Mr Morrison said the current phase, phase one, involved vaccinating, preparing and planning.
Current pre-vaccination measures would continue to focus on suppression of community transmission.
Post-vaccination settings would “focused on prevention of serious illness, hospitalisation and fatality and the public health management of other infectious diseases”.
As part of the strategy, Mr Morrison also announced a short term, 50 per cent reduction in passengers arriving in the country to take pressure off the hotel quarantine system as it is put under strain by the more contagious Delta COVID variant.
The new passenger caps will come into effect by July 14, but some states may impose them sooner.
In addition, the Commonwealth will facilitate more repatriation flights to Darwin for quarantine at the Howard Springs facility while the reduction is in place, the Prime Minister said.
It will also extend freight subsidies to ensure that supplies, such as medicines and vaccines, continue to come into Australia by air.
The Prime Minister said Australia would trial and pilot a home quarantine scheme, which could also be shorter than the current two-week quarantine time.
“The work that we have already done … shows that a vaccinated person doing quarantine for seven days is stronger than an unvaccinated person doing quarantine for 14 days,” he said.
Mr Morrison said the traveller cap would return to the current level in phase two, with even larger caps for vaccinated travellers.
He said the second phase of the plan would kick in when Australia reached specific targets of vaccinations, which the Prime Minister has not specified but said would be based on scientific evidence.
During that phase, lockdowns would only be used in extreme circumstances, and vaccinated people would have eased restrictions when there were lockdowns or border closures.
More students and economic visitors would be allowed then as well.
Phase three will be the consolidation phase and will mean the virus will be managed like any other infectious disease.
“That basically means that the hospitalisation and fatality rates that you would see from COVID-19 would be like the flu,” Mr Morrison said.
He said vaccinated people would be able to travel abroad at will.
“We get this done, Australia, and you can see what is on the other side,” Mr Morrison said.
“You get vaccinated, and we get there, and this all changes.”
Mr Morrison said more details on the steps would emerge during the next month.
As Canberra grapples with the plan out of COVID, Victoria was making changes to continue the protection of its borders.
Changes have been to zonings under Victoria’s travel permit system.
As of Sunday, the Perth metropolitan region and Peel region in Western Australia; Townsville (including Magnetic Island and Palm Island) in Queensland; the local government areas of Ipswich, Logan and Redland within Greater Brisbane, and other local government areas in south-east Queensland including the Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley, Noosa, Scenic Rim and Somerset are now all in orange zones.
These join Alice Springs and Greater Darwin — incorporating the City of Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield – which were declared orange zones on Friday,
Orange zone permit holders entering Victoria must isolate on arrival, get tested within 72 hours, and stay isolated until they get a negative result.
In Queensland, the City of Brisbane, Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast remain red zones.
Greater Sydney, including Central Coast, Shellharbour, Blue Mountains and Wollongong, also remain red zones.
The ACT and all other local government areas in New South Wales are orange zones.
People must have a valid permit, exception or exemption to enter Victoria, even if entering from a green zone.
Permits can be obtained at www.service.vic.gov.au.
For more about Victoria’s travel permit system visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/victorian-travel-permit-system
As of Monday morning, there were no new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases recorded in Victoria, although there was one new case of an overseas traveller in hotel quarantine, and one person was in hospital.
There were 23 active cases in Victoria – five are locally acquired and 18 are overseas acquired cases.
On Saturday more than 15,000 vaccine doses were administered by Victoria’s state-commissioned services — 4362 were first doses of Pfizer and 10,789 were second doses.
This brings the total number of doses administered at these services to more than one million.
This week, there are almost 40,000 bookings in the system for first doses of Pfizer and more than 51,000 second dose bookings.
Victoria’s online booking system is now live at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/book-your-vaccine-appointment or people can phone the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
Information about Victoria’s vaccination centres can be found at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccination-centres.
For information about current restrictions, visit www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-acting-premier-5
The total number of confirmed cases in Victoria since the beginning of the pandemic is 20,714.
Where to access AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines in Wellington
Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations are available in the Wellington Shire at:
Gippsland Regional Sports Complex, Sale, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9.30am to 3.30pm; Wellington Respiratory Clinic, Inglis St, Sale, Monday to Fridays, 8.30am to 5.30pm, Saturdays 8.30am to noon; and Yarram Medical Centre, Tuesdays and Fridays 9am to 3.30pm.
Bookings must be made through the Victorian state COVID-19 Hotline, 1800 675
398, or online at portal.cvms.vic.gov.au.
Currently, AstraZeneca vaccinations are available at approved medical centres around the shire, including Ramahyuck Gippsland Family Practice, Sale; Maffra Medical Group; the Clocktower Medical Centre, Sale; Heyfield Medical Centre; Sale Medical Centre; Stratford Medical Centre; and Johnson Street Medical, Maffra.
Book appointments by phoning 1800 675 398. Walk-ins may be available at some clinics.
For more information about vaccination, go to health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/learn-about-covid-19-vaccines/about-theastrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine#covid19-vaccination-resources.