Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that the country “cannot hold back” from reopening when a majority of adults are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
He warned the state and territory leaders that they cannot be afraid of coronavirus case numbers rising after 70 per cent of adults have received two vaccine doses, reports Xinhua news agency.
The National Cabinet, which is made up of the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders, in July, signed off on a four-phase pathway out of the pandemic that will see lockdowns used more sparingly when 70 per cent of adults are inoculated.
“Once you get to 70 per cent of your country that is eligible for the vaccine and 80 percent, the plan sets out that we have to move forward, we cannot hold back,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“We must adjust our mindset. Cases will not be the issue… Dealing with serious illness, hospitalisation, ICU capabilities, our ability to respond in those circumstances, that will be our goal.”
He also said that the lockdowns “are taking an extremely heavy toll”, in both the aspects of the mental and physical health of Australians and on the economic success.
Australia on Monday morning reported 905 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19, the second highest since the onset of the pandemic.
As many as 818 of the new cases were in New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state with Sydney as the capital city.
Victoria, the second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, reported a further 71 new cases and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recorded another 16 where the nation’s capital Canberra had entered its second week of lockdown.
So far, about half the Australian population in NSW, Victoria, and ACT was still in lockdown.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Monday announced a plan to fast-track vaccinations in Canberra, inviting Canberrans aged 16-29 to register for vaccinations.
“This is a race, and we do need more people to come forward,” he said.
With the latest increases, Australia has so far reported 44,028 confirmed cases of Covid-19, while the death toll stood at 918.