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The Informer: Australian government pressured to boost COVID-19 vaccines as rollout stalls

Victoria has delivered more doses than any other state as residents flood clinics in the wake of the state's fourth lockdown and an expansion of eligibility for jabs. Picture: Shutterstock
Victoria has delivered more doses than any other state as residents flood clinics in the wake of the state's fourth lockdown and an expansion of eligibility for jabs. Picture: Shutterstock

The federal government is facing pressure to boost the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines as the rollout stalls in some parts of the country, leading to many disability and aged care workers still waiting for their first doses.

The Commonwealth has told all states that they do not need to stockpile second doses, driving up utilisation rates in some states and territories to over 90 per cent.

Professor Catherine Bennett from Deakin University said there was always going to be a risk when eligibility was widened that supplies would be tight.

"We have now got our military capacity in operations and logistics looking after this nationally, so hopefully ... we can deploy the vaccine to exactly where it is needed," she told the ABC.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten described it as "more of a stroll out vaccine than a rollout vaccine".

Meanwhile in Victoria, the state recorded five new locally acquired cases overnight as active cases rose from 54 to 55.

Restrictions will changed for Melbourne from 11.59pm on Thursday. They include the 25km travel limit being removed, ban on travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria being lifted and public gatherings increasing from 10 to 20 people.

Sticking with Covid, a new locally transmitted case has been recorded in the Bondi area, according to reports, as authorities desperately try to track down the source.

NSW Health is also investigating a potential hotel quarantine breach after two cases in adjacent rooms returned identical viral sequencing results.

It is unclear how and where transmission occurred from a couple to another returned traveller. They were all staying on the fourth floor of Sydney's Radisson Blu quarantine hotel.

Genomic sequencing has shown all three cases have identical viral sequences of the Alpha strain (B.1.1.7), NSW Health said.

"At this stage we still don't know if it happened on the plane, transporting from the plane to the accommodation, at the accommodation or whether it was just a coincidence," Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.

A controversial mouse poison is being considered in a bid to tackle the mouse plague that has been wreaking havoc across rural NSW and Queensland.

Australia's Environment Minister Sussan Ley said she was open to legalising bromadiolone in a bid to "napalm" rodents plaguing farms.

It comes after the NSW government applied to the federal pesticides regulator asking for urgent approval of the rodenticide to control mouse populations.

A mouse plague has been wreaking havoc across swathes of rural land in NSW and Queensland.

A mouse plague has been wreaking havoc across swathes of rural land in NSW and Queensland.

But leading scientists have warned the chemical could cause risks to the environment and other animals because it stays in the body after mice die.

Ms Ley said she did not have any concerns about the poison's potential impact despite few countries approving it for agricultural use.

In other government news, the Senate has passed laws to ban serious criminals from accessing secure areas at airports and seaports.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the legislation had been through three parliaments and it was about time it passed.

"Quite frankly it is beyond belief that anyone would think it is OK for people who have criminal records or criminal associates should be able to work air-side or on our wharves," she said.

Labor secured an amendment to ensure the laws are reviewed after two years and a report is published following the review.

The lower house will consider in coming days whether to accept or reject Labor's amendment.

Ms Andrews has also claimed that Tharnicaa Murugappan, the youngest member of the Biloela asylum-seeker family, was not as sick as people believed after she was taken to Perth Children's Hospital for treatment.

The four-year-old has been diagnosed with pneumonia and blood poisoning, which could take months to resolve.

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*This edition of The Informer was written by Canberra Times reporter Toby Vue. If you'd like to show your support for the team behind The Informer, why not forward us to a friend?

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This story Pressure to boost vaccines as demand rises first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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