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Queensland has recorded no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19, as the state investigates how to prevent the virus spreading outside of its hospitals.
It comes as federal government minister Peter Dutton concedes there will be hiccups with the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout from time to time, but says Australia is not in the same state of “mad panic” as the US and the UK to get it done.
He says thousands of people are still becoming infected with the virus and dying in the UK and the US, so there is an urgency to get vaccinated.
“We haven’t lived in that environment, we don’t want to,” Dutton told Sky News’s Sunday Agenda program.
“There will be hiccups from time to time in terms of the rollout of the vaccine, but we’ll work with the states, we’ll work with GPs … as we deal with the virus over this calendar year.”
NSW is ramping up its vaccination rollout with the opening of 36 new clinics.
It follows frustration amongst the states about a sluggish commonwealth-managed rollout, for which they have felt unfairly blamed.
“I would like to see other states and territories get involved,” acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd said on Saturday.
Four million Australians were due to have jabs by the end of March, a target missed by more than 3.3 million.
Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been given to many of the Australians who have been vaccinated, has been under scrutiny since a Melbourne man was admitted to hospital with a rare blood clotting disorder.
The man received the AstraZeneca jab on 22 March and is the first Australian known to have developed the illness, which has presented in small numbers of vaccinated people in the UK and Europe.
Prof Kidd emphasised that the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 in the largely unvaccinated Australian population was “far greater” than the “extremely rare” blood clot disorder.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation have been advising the government’s central medical advisory body throughout the Easter weekend, with input from UK and European counterparts.
Kidd said an initial TGA review had found it was “likely” that the blood clot disorder was linked to the man’s AstraZeneca vaccination.
NSW prepares for large-scale rollout
Meanwhile, the NSW government is preparing to significantly scale up its vaccine rollout, if the federal government agrees to let the state pitch in.
NSW Health will open another 36 vaccine clinics in the next week, after already opening 79 clinics at its health services, a spokesperson for the department said on Sunday.
“NSW Health has been preparing for a large-scale vaccine rollout, subject to the federal government accepting help and vaccine supply,” the spokesperson said.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has agreed to let NSW help deliver the vaccine in the state, after NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian wrote to him on Wednesday evening requesting the green light to increase the state’s role in the Covid-19 vaccination program.
Berejiklian said on Saturday that NSW would help administer phases one and two of the federally managed vaccination scheme in the state.
“I am pleased the prime minister in a letter … welcomed our offer,” she confirmed.
Kidd said on Saturday he would like to see other states and territories “get involved”.
‘Good news’ in Queensland
In Queensland, there were no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 on Sunday and only one among overseas travellers already in quarantine.
“This is all part of our plan with the three-day lockdown to ensure that we can get enough people out there tested, identify the close contacts and get them into quarantine to keep everyone safe,” state health minister Yvette D’Ath told reporters on Sunday.
“This meant that we can open up our economy, we can enjoy Easter and it is wonderful to see that our tourism operators are recording record numbers.”
Two clusters that triggered a lockdown of more than 2 million people in Brisbane have been independently linked to hospital staff, and D’Ath said alternative methods of case management are being explored
“We are looking at what is the best model going forward to reduce the risk of any spread of transmission of Covid with our positive patients in our hospital system,” D’Ath said.
“We’re not suggesting it’ll be one single hospital across the whole state because we’ll still be using others outside the Brisbane area.”
Authorities are investigating bed numbers and services that would be required to consolidate Covid cases.
Queensland has 72 active cases and D’Ath said she felt positive about progress following the lockdown, given the high testing rate and low rates of community transmission.
“This is really good news with all those close contacts and all of the testing we’ve done,” she said.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Queensland records no new local Covid cases as Peter Dutton says there will be vaccine rollout ‘hiccups’ | Coronavirus