National Cabinet reviews plan to reopen Doherty Institute
The Prime Minister revealed a major change to the Australian roadmap’s advice for more freedoms this evening.
The National Cabinet has reviewed updated modeling from the Doherty Institute that says “moderate” public health measures would be prudent in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases until the 80 per cent vaccination target is reached.
The new analysis warns that “importation of the delta variant into every Australian jurisdiction is now inevitable,” but says restrictions including stay-at-home orders and travel bans should remain in areas of concern even when 70 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated.
Under the Doherty Institute’s four-phase reopening plan, Australia will begin a phased reopening once 70 per cent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated, with more freedoms including international travel once 80 per cent have On double doses.
State and territory leaders approved the original plan in early August, but have since been caught up in a fiery row over whether to reopen the country amid outbreaks in eastern states, which currently number nearly 20,000 active cases in total.
New South Wales recorded 1,284 cases on Friday, while Victoria confirmed 510 new infections and ACT 30.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has committed to returning many liberties to millions of trapped residents next month when the state reaches its 70 per cent doubling target, while Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce his roadmap on Sunday.
But states with no or few cases of Covid-19 have taken a different stance, with Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan and Queensland Premier Anastasia Palchuk refusing to reopen their borders to states with a slew of issues.
Doherty’s modeling sensitivity analysis, which was submitted to the national cabinet on Friday, found that the highly contagious delta variant could be managed with vaccination rates of 70 percent and 80 percent even if the outbreak began with hundreds or thousands of cases.
These goals must be combined with appropriate testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine practices, and public and social health measures to control transmission and manage health system capacity.
If this is achieved, Doherty’s modeling predicts that the overall numbers of cases and deaths will be similar to seasonal flu.
But the institute said moderate restrictions would “improve outcomes” between the 70 percent and 80 percent threshold in places where daily case numbers are in the thousands, because the ability to effectively test, trace and isolate has been compromised.
The “medium” measures it defines include staying at home except for work, study and essential items, allowing sit-down dining for small groups in hospitality settings but with capacity limits for small groups outdoors.
The Morrison government expects to go from 70 per cent to 80 per cent a double dose to take about two weeks given the current pace of rollout.
Australia reported on Friday that more than 70 percent of the eligible population had been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 45.3 percent fully vaccinated.
More than 1.9 million vaccines have been administered in Australia in the past seven days.
The first doses of Moderna’s vaccine are scheduled to arrive in the country Friday night and will be rolled out as of next week.