The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and management of Australia’s borders.
National Cabinet continues to work together to address issues and find solutions to the health and economic consequences of COVID-19.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, provided an update on the latest epidemiological data and medical advice in relation to COVID-19. It is now clear that through the actions of every Australian, we have successfully prevented a third wave of infections, a rare achievement given the significant increase in global cases. Australia has achieved 6 days in a row of zero cases of local transmission.
There have been 28,754 confirmed cases in Australia and, sadly, 909 people have died. There are now 34 people in hospital. More than 12.6 million tests have been undertaken in Australia.
Australia has done well on both the health and economic fronts compared to most countries around the world. National Cabinet noted the significant increase in COVID-19 cases in many countries and the comparative strength of Australia’s effort in addressing COVID compared to most other developed economies. Globally there have been over 97 million cases and sadly over 2 million deaths, with 674,054 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.
National Cabinet discussed the management of emerging COVID-19 variants. Australia continues to manage the new COVID-19 variants through extended quarantine, testing and mask wearing arrangements.
National Cabinet reaffirmed commitment to the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth, states and territories in rolling out COVID-19 vaccination.
National Cabinet will meet again on Friday 5 February 2021.
Vaccine Implementation Strategy
Professor Brendan Murphy, the chair of the COVID-19 Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group and Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health provided an overview of the extensive arrangements underway to develop the Australian vaccination Strategy and prepare for the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines to priority groups.
National Cabinet thanked Professor Murphy for the significant work underway, noting the development of the vaccination program implementation plan, and reiterated the importance of close cooperation between the Commonwealth, states and territories on the roll out.
National Cabinet agreed the interim AHPPC advice on COVID vaccination and aged care facilities.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has provided advice that state and territory public health orders should not be utilised to require the COVID-19 vaccine for aged care workers at this point.
There is currently a lack of evidence regarding effectiveness at preventing transmission and there is not yet a clear date by which all residents, staff, visitors and carers will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated.
The AHHPC will continue to monitor the situation and will reconsider this matter and provide advice once further evidence becomes available.
Currently, AHPPC believes that Commonwealth and jurisdictional efforts should focus on communications to strongly encourage community uptake, which is expected to be high.
International Passenger Arrival Caps
National Cabinet reaffirmed a commitment to return international passenger arrival caps to previous levels on 15 February 2021.
National Cabinet further agreed to prioritise the return of Australians, with a shared focus on improving confidence in, and expanding quarantine capacity safely to accommodate returning Australians.
The Commonwealth will continue to engage with relevant states on earlier return to caps and further increases.