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'That's the carrot': Home quarantine viable once nation hits vaccination targets

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The woman in charge of the second review of Australia’s quarantine arrangements is confident home isolation can be up and running this year.

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Jane Halton is keen to see home isolation for overseas arrivals in place before the end of the year.

Halton, who is also the chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, believes home quarantine will be viable once the nation hits 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage.

“I’m hoping that we can have systems up and running certainly in test arrangements well before Christmas,” she told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“That’s the carrot. If we hit that 80 per cent double-vaccinated point then we should be able to have these arrangements up and running.”

Not all people arriving in the country will be able to access home quarantine, which will save travellers thousands on hotel bills and costs from other facilities.

South Australia is trialling a home system using facial recognition and location technology allowing people to respond to three random checks a day.

Halton said fully vaccinated people may have shorter quarantine periods than the two weeks Australia now mandates.

“All of those things are on the table but we need to make sure we’ve got the evidence,” she said.

The former health department boss doesn’t expect quarantine will become permanent as vaccination coverage continues to rise.

“In three or four years’ time I’ll be surprised if we’re using these kinds of arrangements unless for example there’s a very nasty new variant.”

Halton has also advised a private company looking to build quarantine sites around Australia.

She said state-run centres the federal government has agreed to build in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth would not have enough capacity for overseas labour needs.

“We know there are tens of thousands of, for example, agricultural workers that are needed in the country and they’re needed very soon,” she said.

“Our national income relies on getting those harvests in and getting those products shipped around the world.”

Australia has vaccinated 42.55 per cent of people aged 16 and over and 67.83 have received a single dose.

 

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