Ending Australian COVID-19 lockdowns at 70 pct vaccination rate “not prudent”: ACT chief minister

 Ending Australian COVID-19 lockdowns at 70 pct vaccination rate “not prudent”: ACT chief minister

CANBERRA, Sept. 18 : (Xinhua) The Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Andrew Barr has said the region’s coronavirus lockdown may not necessarily end when 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated as the country continues to battle the third wave of infections.    
Barr said on Saturday that it “would not be prudent” to lift Canberra’s lockdown when the ACT reaches the vaccine milestone if COVID-19 was still prominent in the community.    
The National Cabinet, which consists of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders, in July signed off on Morrison’s roadmap out of the pandemic.    
Under the four-phase plan, which was based on modelling from the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, leaders agreed to ease coronavirus restrictions and gradually end lockdowns when 70 to 80 percent of over 16 years in their respective states and territories are inoculated against COVID-19.    
However, according to new modelling from the Doherty Institute, which was presented to the National Cabinet on Friday, abandoning lockdowns at 70 percent vaccination rate when there are still active cases in the community could be a public health risk. “Concerns had been raised at previous National Cabinet meetings about the scenarios presented in the August Doherty modelling technical report,” Barr told reporters on Saturday.    
He said the institute now advises that states and territories with COVID-19 outbreaks – given the observed sensitivity to high-seeding infections at 70 percent – ongoing application of medium public health social measures at the time of transition to phase B (between 70 and 80 percent vaccination rates) is deemed prudent in such cases, at least until the 80 percent coverage threshold is achieved.    
On Saturday morning, Australia reported 1,882 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections. The ACT recorded 15 new cases, only two of which were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.    
New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state with Sydney as the capital city, reported 1,331 new cases and six more deaths.    
“There have been 228 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since 16 June 2021,” said the statement from NSW Health. So far about 70.5 percent of Australians aged 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose and 45.4 percent were fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health.

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