The Prime Minister says he has been in touch with the Victorian Acting Premier and has offered the support of the federal government with whatever the state may need during its seven-day lockdown.
- Scott Morrison says at the moment Victoria is not asking for any more Commonwealth support
- Defence personnel are currently helping with the COVID response and more vaccines have been sent
- The state will begin a seven-day lockdown to curb its outbreak from midnight tonight
Acting Premier James Merlino announced the move this morning, after the case recorded another 11 new cases in the last 24 hours.
The lockdown will apply to the entire state and will be in place until June 3, with people only allowed to leave their houses to get food, go to authorised work, give care, exercise or get a vaccination.
“Right now every support has been given to the Victorian government … and I have made it very clear to the Premier that any other additional support he requires he will receive,” Scott Morrison said.
“He has indicated to me that he is seeking nothing further from the Commonwealth at this time.”
There are currently over 218 Defence personnel in Victoria helping with the COVID response and the government has announced extra vaccine doses to help with the state’s vaccination rollout, particularly in aged care homes.
The government has also announced it has suspended mutual obligation requirements for jobseekers in Victoria until Monday June 7.
It means no jobseekers who receive government payments will be penalised for failing to meet the requirements, which include attending face-to-face meetings, activities and job interviews.
The Prime Minister said he commended the government for their efforts over the last few days, and he thanked the contact tracers in Victoria.
Mr Morrison said the outbreak was a reminder of how “insidious” the virus could be.
He said the government hoped the lockdown would not last the entire seven days and the Victorian government was reviewing the situation constantly.
Mr Morrison strongly indicated the Commonwealth would back Victoria’s proposed new quarantine facility for returning travellers.
The plan would see the federal government pay for a 500-bed facility to be set up on the outskirts of Melbourne in Mickleham, with the Prime Minister hopeful of starting construction before September.
‘Record day of 111,000’ vaccination doses
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed half a million Australians were now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, out of almost 4 million people who have begun the vaccination process.
Mr Hunt defended the low rate of Australians fully vaccinated, compared to countries like the United States where almost half the adult population has now received all of their doses.
“The reason is very simple. The AstraZeneca vaccine has a 12-week period between first and second doses and that’s been the primary vaccine in Australia,” he told 7.30.
“Today was a record day of 111,000 Australians who stepped forward to be vaccinated.”
Australia’s slower-than-expected vaccination rollout has been highlighted by the government of Victoria, which is entering another lockdown that is expected to last seven days.
Mr Hunt defended the vaccine rollout, saying more doses had been made available to GPs in recent days and that nearly all aged care homes had been vaccinated.
“Ninety-seven per cent of residential aged care facilities, both around Australia and in Victoria, have been vaccinated so far, which is an extraordinary effort by all those that have been doing it,” Mr Hunt said.
“Five-hundred-and-eighty-two out of 598 facilities in Victoria have been vaccinated, so that is a significantly advanced on yesterday.”
On Wednesday, the government said 569 had received one dose, meaning an extra 13 received doses over the past 24 hours.
He said all aged care homes would receive their first doses by tomorrow, with another seven receiving them today and the final nine tomorrow.
The Health Minister also announced an extra $2.6 million for mental health support for health workers to support them during the pandemic.
The Australian Medication Association’s Dr Omar Korshid once again urged anyone who was eligible to get a COVID vaccine.
“For the rest of us, this is a wake-up call, a reminder that COVID is real, it is here now and the best thing you can do as an Australian — not just for your own health but the health of the people around you — is to go and get your vaccine as soon as it is available to you,” he said.