Canberra (Tribune International, PM Office Release, 3 Sep 2021); The National Cabinet met today 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 58,210 confirmed cases in Australia and, sadly, 1,032 people have died. More than 32.2 million tests have been undertaken. Testing has increased nationally over recent days with 1,516,287 tests reported in the past 7 days.
Globally there have been over 218.9 million cases and sadly over 4.5 million deaths, with 641,267 new cases and 9,844 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 20.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia, including 301,399 doses in the previous 24 hours.
In the previous 7 days, more than 1.9 million vaccines have been administered in Australia. More than 61.3 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 years and over have now had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including over 80.3 per cent of over 50 year olds and more than 88.4 per cent of over 70 year olds.
More than 37.1 per cent of Australians aged 16 years and over are now fully vaccinated including more than 54.9 per cent of over 50 year olds and more than 65.5 per cent of Australians over 70 years of age.
Today, 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 in NSW, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. National Cabinet further noted the outbreak in New Zealand.
Leaders noted the health system capacity in place to support the current outbreaks, with further work underway to understand the surge capacity available should it be required in the transition to Phase B and Phase C under the National Plan. The Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy will come back to National Cabinet at the next meeting with an update on health system capacity needs inclusive of health workforce options to meet anticipated increased demand.
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. Leaders welcomed the announcement of the 4 million additional Pfizer doses to be supplied in September, through a sharing arrangement with the United Kingdom.
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. Professor Jodie McVernon from the Doherty Institute updated National Cabinet on draft modelling scenarios, with further work underway to assess the public health and social measures as well as the test, tracing, isolation and quarantine measures for low, medium and high outbreak scenarios.
National Cabinet received an update from Ms Jane Halton AO PSM on the Quarantine review, including the need for risk based approaches to quarantine and South Australian home quarantine trial. Both pieces of work will assist National Cabinet’s consideration of modifications to Australia’s quarantine systems at Phase B and C of the National Plan.
National Cabinet received a briefing from Lieutenant General John Frewen, DSC, AM, Coordinator General of the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce (Operation COVID Shield) on the plans to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, building on existing plans, the learnings and momentum gained from the response to recent outbreaks in Western New South Wales. These plans have been developed in partnership with the Indigenous health sector and state and territories.
The plan focuses on targeted support for communities, increasing primary care and state and territory clinic throughput by bolstering points of presence and supplementing the vaccine workforce, along with communication materials to dispel misinformation and reduce hesitancy.
Operation COVID Shield will take a targeted geographic approach to bolster vaccine administration efforts region by region and community by community, with localised planning based on the most efficient use of available resources and vaccine supply, informed by intelligence and input gathered from local organisations and leaders.
National Cabinet further agreed the taskforce would undertake additional planning to increase vaccination rates amongst disadvantaged communities and other hard to reach communities, and report back to the next meeting of National Cabinet.
National Cabinet agreed to meet next on Friday, 17 September 2021.