Anthony Albanese has seized on reports of five aged care residents in Sydney being infected with COVID-19 and blamed the Morrison Government for its failure in rolling out the vaccine program.
Three residents were initially infected by two staff members and two new resident cases were among 35 new local cases across NSW reported this morning.
“It was another reminder of this government’s incompetence when its comes to the rolling out of the vaccine,” the opposition leader told reporters in Canberra.
However, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said residents in all but one of the 2566 residential aged care facilities across the country have received both their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccination.
“This level of vaccination has increased the protection levels of older people living in our nation’s residential aged care facilities,” Professor Kidd told reporters.
“They keep people out of hospital and keep people out of intensive care units.”
There is still no exact timetable for when under 40s can get the recommended Pfizer vaccination.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said there will be a marked step up in terms of availability of the Pfizer vaccine in the next few months, stepping up from around 300,000 doses a week now to about 600,000 doses a week, and further increases are forecast in September.
“There’s not a fixed date that I can give you now,” Senator Birmingham told ABC’s Insiders program yesterday.
Albanese said the inability to set a date is what happens when you think it’s not a race.
“The fact there is no date or no timelines on the so-called four phases that we need to go through, says it all about this government,” he said.
The four-stage plan to steer Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic and back to some sort of normality outlined by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week hinges on a vaccination target.
That target will be predicated on medical advice and modelling by the Doherty Institute being conducted over the next month or so.
“Every Australian wants us to get to stage four as quickly as possible, but we can only do that if we know that the health and safety of Australians is being protected on the way,” Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett hopes to see progressive targets which will bring the benefits that vaccine offers into more immediate reach.
“So we are not just looking at that final number when we can open up our international borders but when we are in a position to say we can triage our arrivals from overseas according to their vaccination status,” Professor Bennett told Sky News.
Victoria is already complaining that its Pfizer allocation is dwindling as NSW gets more to battle its unfolding outbreak.
“We wish them every success, of course, but what we are concerned about is that there is a clear appetite for Victorians to get vaccinated,” Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters at Cobblebank on Sunday.
“Disappointingly, Victoria will have to manage down for the next few weeks.”
There were no virus cases reported in Victoria.
NSW’s 35 locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday takes the total infections since the June 16 start of the outbreak to 312.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the dip in case numbers was a good sign, but reiterated all people in Greater Sydney and surrounds must adhere to lockdown provisions, which will remain in place until at least Friday.
Queensland recorded a single local COVID-19 case overnight as residents in Brisbane and Moreton Bay ready for their first full day without a lockdown.
The state also recorded an additional case in hotel quarantine and acquired overseas.
Western Australia reported one new local case amid the first phase of interim post-lockdown restrictions in Perth and Peel regions.
The man has been in quarantine since June 26 and doesn’t represent any public health risk, WA Health Minister Roger Cook said.