Canberra (Tribune International, PM Office Release, 20 Aug 2021): The National Cabinet met today for the 52nd time to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, recent outbreaks of COVID-19 and the Australian COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy.
National Cabinet continues to work together to address issues and find solutions for the health and economic consequences of COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been 42,228 confirmed cases in Australia and, sadly, 974 people have died. More than 28.9 million tests have been undertaken. Testing has increased nationally over recent days with 1,410,219 tests reported in the past 7 days.
Globally there have been over 209.9 million cases and sadly over 4.4 million deaths, with 665,241 new cases and 9,554 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in many countries around the world.
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out continues to expand. To date 16.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia, including 303,304 in the previous 24 hours.
In the previous 7 days, more than 1.7 million vaccines have been administered in Australia. More than 51 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 years and over have now had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including over 74.1 per cent of over 50 year olds and more than 84.5 per cent of over 70 year olds.
More than 28.8 per cent of Australians aged 16 years and over are now fully vaccinated including more than 42.2 per cent of over 50 year olds and more than 55.8 per cent of Australians over 70 years of age.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly provided an update on current outbreaks of COVID-19. The Chief Medical Officer has announced a number of hotspots across Australia including Greater Sydney and rural NSW, Greater Melbourne and the Australian Capital Territory.
Leaders noted the health system capacity in place is able to support the current outbreaks.
Lieutenant General John Frewen, Coordinator-General of Operation COVID Shield, provided an update on the vaccine roll out.
All leaders reiterated the importance of Australians, especially those in vulnerable groups, to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are registered for use in Australia and are proven to be effective in preventing serious illness and death, as well as limiting transmission.
National Cabinet noted the work underway through the COVID-19 Risk Analysis and Response Taskforce report and the Doherty modelling for the National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID Response.
National Cabinet further noted work of the Data and Digital Ministers Meeting around incorporating the proof of vaccination status into existing state and territory check-in apps to assist with contact tracing, noting that it will be optional for individuals to include their vaccination status.
National Cabinet agreed to meet next on Friday, 27 August 2021.
Afghanistan – Evacuees
National Cabinet noted the efforts underway to evacuate Australian citizens and permanent residents and their families, and humanitarian visa holders, including Afghan locally engaged employees, from Afghanistan given the rapidly changing situation.
The situation on the ground in Afghanistan necessitates urgent action and that securing the safe and orderly departure of Australians and humanitarian visa holders was a high priority.
The Prime Minister noted that jurisdictions were working very closely together to support the evacuation efforts and thanked them for providing 935 quarantine places, above caps, to returned travellers from Afghanistan.
The Commonwealth will provide resettlement services for humanitarian visa holders in each Australian jurisdiction, which will include specialist physical and mental health services for vulnerable travellers requiring extra support.
National Freight Movement Protocol and Code
National Cabinet noted that Transport Ministers have agreed to an updated Freight Movement Protocol and Code that delivers a streamlined and more consistent approach to COVID-19 testing in line with recent advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.