Scott Morrison rules out ‘game changer’ Covid tests that could slash quarantine to five days and kick-start international travel – but vows to have every Aussie vaccinated by October
- The Prime Minister said there is still doubts over the safety of the rapid testing
- Qantas CEO Alan Joyce it’s a ‘gamechanger’ that would allow travel to resume
- Mr Morrison said it was still too early for the government to safely introduce it
- The prime minister also said Australians shouldn’t expect an ‘immediate change’
Scott Morrison has for now ruled out rapid Covid testing that could cut quarantine from 14 days to five.
The Prime Minister said there is still doubts over the safety of the testing, which would give results within just minutes rather than a matter of days.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has previously said the testing was a ‘gamechanger’ that would allow international travel to resume faster.
But Mr Morrison said it was still too early for the government to safely introduce it.
‘We put those questions forward, until we can get a clear medical view that that is safe, it would be irresponsible to do it,’ he told A Current Affair on Monday night.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there is still doubts over the safety of the rapid testing, which would give results within just minutes rather than a matter of days
Mr Morrison said it was still too early for the government to safely introduce the rapid testing
‘I have always said, we have to save lives, and livelihoods as well.
‘Whether it is JobKeeper or the support we put into businesses with cash flow assistance, the job hiring credit, which starts today for younger Australians, all of that is there to get people through.
‘The comeback in Australia has begun, and is gathering momentum.’
Mr Morrison also said Australians shouldn’t expect an ‘immediate change’ after the Pfizer vaccine is rolled out.
‘What we know is that from the end of February at this point we’ll be able to start vaccinating those in the most sensitive area, those most vulnerable those front-line health workers in particular,’ he said.
‘And then over the course of the year we expect to get through the course of the population by October.
‘Once you get the vaccine, it doesn’t mean you can immediately go and fly overseas or things like that, that may well prove to be the case over time, but initially it’s a matter of protecting our most valuable and those working with our most vulnerable.’
Mr Morrison said a trigger to restart international travel would be a vaccine that ‘prevents transmissibility’.
‘The vaccines that we have that is still to be confirmed … at this point the medical advice is that we can’t assert that at this point, but that may well change,’ he said.
‘We are getting Australians home, we’ve had about 80,000 that have come back just since September. We’ve had over 450,000 that made their way back to Australia over the course of the last year.
‘We do want to get Australians back but we have to manage this as best we can. The virus sets the rules here.’
Earlier today Mr Morrison announced the commitment to equip hospitals and other health centres to administer coronavirus vaccines.
Mr Morrison also said Australians shouldn’t expect an ‘immediate change’ after the Pfizer vaccine is rolled out
The money, which takes the overall spend on vaccinations to $6.3 billion, will boost the workforce involved in the roll-out of the jabs through GPs, pharmacies and thousands of other approved centres.
‘Our aim is to offer all Australians the opportunity to be vaccinated by October of this year, commencing in just a few weeks time,’ he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
He said the first vaccinations for priority groups remained on track for late February despite supply chain pressures in Europe.
‘However, the final commencement date will depend on developments overseas, which we will continue to monitor and update accordingly,’ Mr Morrison said.
A special surge workforce will ensure it gets to hard-to-reach areas.