Scott Morrison claims Australia’s international border will be closed ‘indefinitely’ as citizens have ‘no appetite’ to see overseas travel return
- Scott Morrison has warned international borders could remain closed for longer
- Prime minister said he wanted to protect the social freedoms of Australians
- Reopening borders would raise the risk of another Covid-19 outbreak, he said
Scott Morrison has warned international borders will remain closed indefinitely if it means protecting Australians from a deadly outbreak of Covid-19 from overseas.
The prime minister said Australians had come to accept local lockdowns as ‘part of living with Covid-19’ and that residents did not have ‘an appetite’ for change.
He warned that reopening the borders too soon would expose the country to another and more ruthless outbreak of Covid-19, like the ones experienced in the UK and Europe.
‘We sit here as an island that’s living like few countries in the world are at the moment,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘We have to be careful not to exchange that way of life for what everyone else has.’
Scott Morrison has warned international borders will remain closed indefinitely if it means protecting Australians from a deadly outbreak of Covid-19 from overseas
Aussies have been banned from leaving the country since March 2020 without special exemptions, and only citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter under some of the strictest Covid-19 border rules in the world.
Last year the Government predicted international borders would be open in October 2021 after the whole adult population has been offered a vaccination.
Though the date has been pushed back to some time in 2022 as uncertainty continues to grow over the Covid-19 vaccine’s ability to protect against new and mutating strains of the virus.
Mr Morrison said he would wait until ‘clear evidence’ proved the vaccines were effective before allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas again.
‘The next big step that can be taken is that Australians who are vaccinated are able to travel and return to Australia without having to hotel quarantine, and ideally we only have to engage in some sort of home quarantine of a less restrictive nature,’ he said.
Although Mr Morrison has warned he will keep the borders closed over fears of another Covid-19 outbreak, a top epidemiologist says it is ‘only a matter of time’ until Australia has another one.
University of Melbourne professor James McCaw predicted cases will increase as people socialise frequently and the virus spread undetected.
He said eventually an outbreak will be cunning enough to successfully avoid the diligent work of contract tracers, and only mass vaccination would stop it.
‘We will expect incursions at least once a month and more often. And while we mix more socially, the chance of one of those taking hold goes up very quickly,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘The virus will win. But it won’t have a devastating impact if we are vaccinated.’
The prime minister said Australians had come to accept local lockdowns as ‘part of living with Covid-19’ and that residents did not have ‘an appetite’ for change
Professor McCaw, who is leading a research team providing expertise on the pandemic to the federal government, went onto state the British B117 strain of the virus has the potential to be negative game changer in Australia.
‘That strain is more transmissible and is more severe, and the severity comes to lower age groups,’ he said.
The federal government aims to vaccinate 25 million people in Australia aged over 16 – and just 2.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered by medical staff to date.
Supply shortages and a complication linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine have been significant factors.
Dr Suman Majumdar, an infectious diseases physician at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, believes the current virus is ‘stronger than we have ever seen’ and is more powerful than the Wuhan virus which emerged from China in 2020.
With winter looming, there are fears people with symptoms may dismiss them, fearing they just have the common cold.
This could result in the virus spreading rapidly across the nation.