Wednesday, December 1

Flight limits will increase, the hotel quarantine system remains the same; key points of the National Cabinet


Flight limits for returning travelers will be increased again next week to help travel abroad Australian home, the prime minister confirmed today.

The National Cabinet met this morning and determined that the country’s hotel quarantine system would be maintained despite the recent transmission of coronavirus in the facilities.

Other topics on the agenda included launching the COVID-19 vaccine now that doses are assured and how to deal with the virus in the long term.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Medical Director Paul Kelly address the media after a national cabinet meeting at Parliament House in Canberra today.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Medical Director Paul Kelly address the media after a national cabinet meeting at Parliament House in Canberra today. (Dominic Lorrimer)

“The point is that the vaccination program, over months as it is implemented, can change the nature of how Australia handles the virus,” said Scott Morrison.

Other matters considered today: It was agreed once again that the return of Australian residents is the priority, in terms of arrivals to Australia.

“We must remember that our borders are really closed.

“No one can just come to Australia. In order to come to Australia, you need to be an Australian resident or citizen, or have a private exemption.”

As of February 15, flight limits will be lifted, which means more airplane seats and hotel rooms will be available for returning Australians.

    Howard Springs Quarantine Facility
Howard Springs Quarantine Facility (Age / Nine)

Morrison also said the government is looking to expand capacity at the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory.

“We’re already expanding it to 850, and potentially way beyond that, which would be more than double that capacity at Howard Springs,” he said.

The government is also evaluating a proposal from the Queensland government to open a new facility in Toowoomba.

“But we are still looking for a lot more information on that proposal,” Morrison said.

“It’s not just about understanding what the cost arrangements are, but understanding the workforce arrangements to run a facility like that and how it can be delivered to that location – what is the impact on other local healthcare facilities in a regional location like that, “he added.

“I know these are issues that the locals have been raising and we have to be very aware of that.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives with Medical Director Paul Kelly to brief the media on today's national cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives with Medical Director Paul Kelly to brief the media on today’s national cabinet meeting. (Getty)

‘The risk matrix has changed’ in 2021

Morrison said that the National Cabinet received an update from Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, and the head of the Federal Department of Health, Professor Brendan Murphy, on the progress of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine launch in terms of TGA approvals, as well as state and territorial preparations.

“The combination of those briefings reinforced a very important point,” Morrison said.

“And that is, now that we are in 2021, the risk environment, the risk matrix, has changed. It has changed.”

He said these “new trends” will have political implications.

Morrison said the change was due in part to a strengthening of systems in place to contain the virus, which was first seen in Brisbane when the UK variant escaped from the hotel quarantine.

“So the systems are better, the responses we get from the public, even in places like Western Australia or Queensland, where there haven’t been those kinds of cases as regularly as we’ve seen in, say, New South Wales or Victoria, have been managed, and we are very happy about that.

“That has a downward impact on risk.

“But equally, where we’ve seen new strains and other new information come up, that can increase the risk.

“And then, of course, there is the impact of the vaccine itself.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Medical Director Paul Kelly address the media after a national cabinet meeting. (Dominic Lorrimer)

‘Vaccines are one thing, vaccines are another’

The prime minister tried to remind Australia that the risk posed by COVID-19 will not change until a substantial proportion of the population is vaccinated.

“Vaccines are one thing, vaccines are another,” he said.

“It’s the vaccines that really change what is happening on the ground and the risk environment in which policy is set.”

Morrison said the potential for vaccines to dramatically reduce the severity of the effects of COVID-19 creates “the potential that the virus could, over time, be viewed in a very similar way to other viruses found in the community. “.

“The vaccination program, over the months as it is implemented, can change the nature of how Australia handles the virus,” Morrison said.

He said that when this occurs, the COVID-19 statistics will not be counted so much in the number of cases but in the number of hospitalizations or admissions to the ICU.


www.9news.com.au

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