Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Hits 5 Million Doses: Health Minister

More than five million vaccines have now been injected after a record Saturday and three-quarters of million in the past week, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt says.

Hunt said a record 88,000 Australians were vaccinated on Saturday, which meant that in just six days, 772,750 were completed, also a record.

“We have seen the vaccine program is accelerating,” Hunt told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

“As supply becomes available, the public is stepping up and doing their part of the job.”

The minister also announced an additional 100,000 vaccines are being made available for Victoria, which remains in a 14-day lockdown due to end on Thursday.

The state initially reported two new infections on Sunday, along with six cases among overseas travellers currently in hotel quarantine.

But no sooner had Acting Premier James Merlino finished his daily press conference, a further two cases emerged linked to the Arcare Maidstone nursing home—a 79-year-old resident and an aged care worker.

Meanwhile, the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is showing an interest in his state building a quarantine facility after Victoria secured an agreement with the Commonwealth for one last week, while Queensland also wants one.

Perrottet says NSW has done the heavy lifting when it comes to hotel quarantining and setting up a facility may assist over the next 12 months to alleviate pressure on its hotel system.

“That is something we should look at,” Perrottet told reporters in Sydney.

“The federal government has said it will support these types of facilities in other states and we want to work to a proposal that makes sense and keeps our people safe.”

But Hunt said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had already been in contact with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“The PM has confirmed with the premier that at this point they’re not seeking any additional quarantine facility in New South Wales,” Hunt said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said national government-run, purpose-built quarantine facilities should be built without delay.

“That was the best time to do this, the best next time is right now,” he told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

He pointed out that Labor’s policy also includes building quarantine facilities, as announced in last month’s budget reply speech.

“This needs to fixed now, not wait until after the next federal election which will occur perhaps as late as May of next year,” he said. “We can’t afford to keep having these lockdowns.”

His deputy Richard Marles says there is just one purpose-built facility in Australia, Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, which unsurprisingly has no COVID-19 breakouts, while there has been 21 or 22 from hotels over the past year.

“Fit-for-purpose facilities should be doing the bulk of the work,” he told ABC’s Insiders program.

An agreement has been reached for the Commonwealth to meet the capital costs for a 500-bed facility in outer Melbourne, while Victoria would cover operational costs.

Morrison says the proposal is “a very good” one.

However, while Victoria’s proposal formed an 80-page document, a proposal from Queensland is believed to have been scant on detail.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Queensland’s state Labor conference on Saturday the plan to construct a 1000-bed centre near Toowoomba is not rocket science.

“We are not proposing construction of an international space station,” she said.

“These are reasonably basic structures but they can provide the safety and the certainty our country needs.”

By Colin Brinsden

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