Vaccination of aged care workers is to be made mandatory under a move endorsed by the national cabinet, Scott Morrison has announced.
The decision comes as Australia’s coronavirus outbreaks have reignited calls for vaccinations to be increased amid concern about the highly contagious Delta strain sweeping the country.
Cabinet’s national security committee met on Monday to discuss the unfolding situation with lockdowns and tighter restrictions emerging around the nation.
Later in the day Prime Minister Mr Morrison brought together state and territory leaders for a national cabinet meeting.
Vaccination of aged care workers is expected to be made mandatory under a move endorsed by the national cabinet. Pictured: Staff are seen leaving Arcare Aged Care facility in Melbourne last month
It is understood the leaders are expected to endorse mandatory vaccination for aged care workers.
Despite aged care workers and residents being in the initial Phase 1a rollout, many are still not vaccinated.
Of the 910 deaths in Australia from COVID-19, 685 have been aged care residents.
As well, there will be a ban on accommodating low-risk domestic travellers next door to high-risk international arrivals, which triggered an outbreak in Queensland.
This could be done by separating them into different accommodation or floors in the one facility.
The national cabinet is also set to back vaccination and testing of all quarantine workers, and making vaccines and testing available to their household contacts.
The meeting received a detailed briefing on the vaccination program from three top officials – COVID-19 task force commander John Frewen, health department boss Brendan Murphy and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.
Earlier, Lieutenant General Frewen told reporters while Pfizer supplies remained constrained, there were ample AstraZeneca doses for people over 60.
He warned the disease would not be eradicated in the near future.
‘We will have to get more comfortable with the idea that there will be ongoing outbreaks in the COVID space,’ he said.
Cabinet’s national security committee met on Monday for emergency discussions as Covid outbreaks have popped up across several states. Pictured: Health workers conduct COVID-19 tests at the St. Vincents Hospital drive-through testing clinic at Bondi Beach on Saturday
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) is expected to discuss vaccine mandates with state leaders
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino receives his second Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination at the Royal Exhibition Building on Saturday
‘But with all of those mitigation measures we can hopefully keep people alive, keep people from getting seriously ill and then as quickly as we can transition back to normal life as quickly as we can.
‘Vaccination underpins all of that.’
With Sydney in lockdown, NSW recorded 18 new coronavirus cases and all but one confirmed as linked to existing cases.
The number was down from 30 on Sunday and came from 59,000 tests.
Queensland is on the verge of another lockdown in the state’s southeast after two new local cases with more than 160 returned mine workers being tested.
Masks will be mandatory across large swathes of the state, home visits will be capped at 30 guests and venues will need to adhere to a one person per four square metre rule.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown in Sydney’s inner west had seen hundreds of people turn up to its vaccination centre on Monday (pictured)
In South Australia – which hasn’t recorded a new case – beefed up restrictions include masks in high-risk settings and reduced densities in pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Western Australia recorded one new case in a woman who briefly came into contact with another person who had visited Sydney.
In the Northern Territory, an outbreak linked to a central Australian mine has grown to seven cases, sparking an extension of a snap lockdown until at least Friday.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese continues to slam the federal government for the slow rollout and not taking charge of isolating people entering the country.
‘This is a race to get people vaccinated, it is a race also to set up national quarantine facilities,’ he told reporters in Canberra.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it would be appropriate for national cabinet to discuss further limiting passenger arrivals given breaches were leading to lockdowns.
‘Hotels are made for tourists. They’re not purpose-built and they’re not much good at keeping things like the Delta variant at bay,’ he said.
Almost 7.4 million Australians have been vaccinated.
Crowds queue outside a vaccination centre in Sydney on Thursday as the highly-infectious Delta Covid strain spreads across the city