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No more travel bubbles until vaccine roll-out complete - Palaszczuk

Business

Australia shouldn’t open its borders to any further countries until the coronavirus vaccine rollout is completed, the Queensland premier says.

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A travel bubble with New Zealand is set to allow cross-Tasman travel between the two countries from April 18.

Annastacia Palaszczuk is in talks with airlines to resume direct flights from NZ to regional tourism destinations.

While she thinks the NZ bubble is a good first step, she’s wary about opening the borders to additional countries before the vaccine is rolled out.

“I don’t think we should be opening up to any other country until we have the vaccine rollout complete,” the premier told reporters on Wednesday.

Ms Palaszczuk warned that opening borders posed too great a risk with all the strains of COVID-19 in Australia and around the world at the moment.

“Let’s get the vaccine rollout done, and then, I think, is the right time to have a look at that,” she added.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said vaccine supplies from the federal government remain inconsistent.

Queensland has about 14-days’ supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine and seven days of the Pfizer jab.

She said the state received 25,000 Pfizer doses on Thursday and was told there would not be another delivery for a fortnight.

D’Ath said Queensland isn’t stockpiling, but it is holding “a contingency” amid the uncertainty.

“We can use it as quickly as we can and run out, and wait for that next delivery, but we are mindful that at this stage we have no confirmation there’ll be another Pfizer delivery within the fortnight,” she said.

Queensland reported six new cases, all in hotel quarantine, on Wednesday.

The state’s hospitals are treating 73 active cases.

Ms Palaszczuk offered condolences to the family of dual Papua New Guinean-British national Mal “Kela” Smith, who died of COVID-19 complications in Brisbane.

The 77-year-old former governor of PNG’s Eastern Highlands province died in Redcliffe Hospital on March 28.

“It’s just a tragedy that he passed away, he was a very sick man,” the premier said.

Mr Smith served as a helicopter pilot in the Australian Defence Force and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry during a medevac operation in the Vietnam War in 1970.

He founded the Pacific Helicopter Group and was also chair of the Goroka Hospital Board.

Mr Smith also founded the Kela Foundation in 2017 to support underprivileged and disadvantaged communities.

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