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Not one Aussie case in intensive care: PM defends virus response

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Scott Morrison has pointed to the number of older Australians who have received a single coronavirus jab after being pressured over low population-wide vaccination figures.

 

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Just three per cent of adults have been fully immunised against the deadly disease which is spreading in Sydney, sparking border closures and fuelling fears of a lockdown.

But the prime minister urged caution about focusing on the miserly number.

“That suggests if you’ve had a first dose, you have no protection. That’s just simply not true,” he told the Seven Network on Thursday.

“It would be wrong for people to think the first dose doesn’t provide protection, because the scientific evidence shows it clearly does.”

About two thirds of people aged over 70 and about half of over-50s have received their first dose.

But Australia remains well behind other developed economies in rolling out the vaccine.

Morrison said the nation did not have a single person with the disease in intensive care while other highly vaccinated countries dealt with high case loads.

“It would be a mistake to think if we have high rates of vaccination you won’t get cases. The UK is proving the exact opposite,” he said.

He said the government would keep a close eye on emerging strains and the impact of immunisation in other countries before making decisions on lifting restrictions including international borders.

“Once you let it in, you can’t get it out,” the prime minister said.

“I’m not going to recklessly exchange places with countries in the rest of the world who are suffering from that problem where they’ve got people dying every day.”

AstraZeneca will likely be phased out of the rollout later in the year as Pfizer and Moderna take over as preferred vaccinations for younger people.

That vaccine is no longer recommended for people under 60 over extremely rare but serious blood clots which have claimed two lives from more than 3.8 million doses.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said people were uncertain about job prospects and suffering through lockdowns.

“Today’s new announcement, yet again, on AstraZeneca will just reinforce that anxiety,” he told a business forum.

More state borders have closed ahead of the school holidays with Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak sparking concern across Australia.

Western Australia and South Australia will ban people from NSW while Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania are shutting people from seven Sydney hotspots out.

With the Bondi cluster growing to at least 31, Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly declared the seven council areas Commonwealth coronavirus hotspots.

“I am worried. There has up to now been a very strong linkage between the cases but that has changed over the last 24 hours,” he said.

“We have had the first of our super-spreader events.”

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