12 July 2021

Travel bans to last for winter, build Canberra quarantine centre, says Chief Minister

| Ian Bushnell
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Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr: “We are in this situation because Australia doesn’t have enough vaccines.” Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Canberrans will likely face interstate COVID-19 travel restrictions until the end of winter, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has warned, and he’s laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Federal Government for its failures on vaccine supply and quarantine.

“We are in this situation because Australia doesn’t have enough vaccines in the country at the moment,” Mr Barr said at a press conference to respond to the growing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.

“Our population is not sufficiently vaccinated. We haven’t at the national level put in place purpose-built quarantine facilities of sufficient scale. That’s why we are here. It’s not our fault.”

Mr Barr called on the Commonwealth to build quarantine facilities, including in Canberra at the RAAF Fairbairn base.

“I’m not suggesting it be a massive facility, but they do have needs in terms of outbound Australian Government delegations to quarantine safely when they come back into Australia. They could do so in Canberra at the RAAF Base with a small purpose-built facility.”

Mr Barr said the ACT, which remains COVID-free after more than a year, had done nothing wrong and was simply a victim of its geography, being an island within NSW.

READ MORE A birthday of sorts: one year COVID-free in the ACT

The Chief Minister had said earlier that there was no reason for Victoria and South Australia to impose a hard border on the ACT, but he understood that they had zero tolerance for risk.

He would continue to advocate for Canberrans with other state or territory governments, but he needed to set reasonable expectations, given the facts of the situation in Sydney, where a further 112 locally acquired cases were reported today (12 July).

Mr Barr ruled out a hard border with NSW, saying the idea that the ACT could have a barricade with NSW was just not feasible, with more than 60 road crossings and the need to maintain supply lines.

However, the interstate bus service is not running, there are police at the airport, train station and on ACT roads, and collaboration with NSW Police on the Hume and Federal Highways.

COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine vials

More than 100,000 doses have been administered at ACT clinics. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Mr Barr said the ACT had nation-leading levels of vaccinations. More than 100,000 doses had now been administered at ACT clinics and a similar number across the rest of the vaccine rollout network.

He said the ACT could expect more supply of the Pfizer vaccine in September.

“We’re already leading the vaccination race in Australia, particularly on first doses, and for take up of people 70 years and older on first does it’s over 90 per cent and right on the heels of the Northern Territory on second doses,” he said.

“That’s ultimately the ticket out of this. But as we know, we don’t have enough vaccine supply to vaccinate everybody at the moment. Hence, the measures that have been put in place around the country are unfortunately necessary at this time.”

Health Minister Rachel-Stephen-Smith urged people who are due for their second dose of AstraZeneca to get their jabs.

But the ACT was not asking people to bring forward that second dose from 12 weeks as is being done in NSW.

The ACT was continuing to follow the advice that Pfizer be preferred for those under the age of 60, but Ms Stephen-Smith said those who wanted to get vaccinated could discuss receiving AstraZeneca with their doctor.

COVID-19 testing levels have fallen, and Ms Stephen-Smith is urging people who have any symptoms, which now for the Delta variant are more like those of a cold or flu, to get tested.

“It’s not surprising there was a bit of a drop off in numbers, but it is absolutely critical that anyone with symptoms come forward and get tested. It’s vital for our surveillance,” she said.

For all the latest travel restrictions and advice, go to the ACT Government COVID-19 website.

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HiddenDragon7:17 pm 13 Jul 21

Given the propensity of Canberrans to go forth and spend (well beyond the ACT borders), having Canberra as the centre of a regional bubble, of sorts, might turn out to be a net benefit for local businesses.

We all need to be jabbed but who can blame those who don’t want AstraZeneca given the issues. When they trivialise the death rate of the AstraZeneca jab it shows no care for those families who have lost someone. Imagine if that was your wife, sister or mum? Would you think it was so trivial?
‘The chance of death is almost nil’ . Nice statement unless it’s someone you love.

It’s a matter of weighting up the odds. The odds of dying, or suffering long term (one in ten people), maybe permanent health issues with catching Covid are far higher than any risk with having the AZ vaccine.

Capital Retro9:47 am 13 Jul 21

I have lost several close friends recently. They had to have life saving surgery and they were warned that there is always a danger of blood clotting after. Sadly, some of them developed post-operative pulmonary embolisms and died.

In all cases there was no animosity directed to the health care professionals involved by the bereaved relatives.

Your comments appear to be those of an advocate expressing what you may think is the situation with deaths from vaccinations. You are wrong.

You have absolutely nailed it, CapitalRetro (yeah – don’t fall I unreservedly agree with you). There are so many procedures and medications (such as the contraceptive pill) which can cause blood clots. The fear mongerers have conveniently ignored the fact that Heparin (a high end blood thinner administered in hospitals to treat blood clots) can trigger thrombocytopenia and thrombosis – the very same condition which can occur after the administration of Astrazeneca vaccine. Approximately 0.3% (i.e. 3 in 10,000) of patients receiving heparin treatment may suffer from arterial and/or venous thrombosis (blood clot), whereas 4-6 people in every million (which hoping my maths is correct is between 0.0004 and 0.0006%) vaccinated with Astrazeneca experience side effect called thrombosis in combination with thrombocytopenia. Yet heparin continues to be administered in hospitals as a primary treatment for blood clots. So the bottom line is as with everything medical, if anyone has concerns about the vaccine, don’t read the media/RiotACT, consult your GP – they are not influenced by sensationalism and they know your specific circumstances.

Gee CapitalRetro – you had to wait over 12 months but finally there’s be an administrative error which has given you the in you needed to bring down the whole tower. What you failed to do was add that “The error was identified quickly and a follow-up message was sent to all people who received the message in error about 30 minutes later.”. Mistakes have happened at all levels during this pandemic – the strength in any state or territory administration’s COVID Management is not whether or not mistakes occur, but how quickly that administration identifies the mistake, acts to correct it and puts measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again – but of course acknowledging that would require objectivity, on your part, in relation to a Labor administration.

Capital Retro9:50 am 13 Jul 21

Thanks for confirming the problem that both the Canberra Times and other media outlets reported on.

Your welcome, CapitalRetro. I now look forward to reading your condemnation of the Berejiklian government’s COVID management which has allowed the virus to break out of the Greater Sydney containment area to register a positive case in Goulburn.

Capital Retro9:46 pm 13 Jul 21

I’m still working on the Andrews Republic Soviet condemnation and subsequent cover-ups.

Well we have a unused $24 mill tent thing we built next to the hospital, which Chief Barr could use to ease the quarantine strain a little.

It’s not a tent. It was being used for COVID tests, but is now in use for vaccinations.

Have you been inside? Clearly not as you think it is unused. When in fact it is being used day in day out.

And I’m sure we can all be thankful it hasn’t been used for what it was built for. Though maybe not yourself as I can see you are itching to lay some Covid blame at Barr’s feet that of course would happen at the first hint of a breakout. .

Day in day out ? U n Kevin Rudd running an after hours vaccine facility?

Not only is it not empty, the process of getting my first shot there was reasonably efficient and well organised.

Sure some room for improvement but overall surprisingly good.

Though they could do with some work on the potholes in the carpark.

You didn’t have to wait too long JC – as per the next post

Dukethunder I didn’t say day and night I said day in day out. And yes vaccinations are done there every day of the week and have been for many months now.

And my experience was exactly as per Spirals. In and out without fuss or worry.

Well I am pleased the 24 mill is being used for something like giving the jab.
At Jerra they have to ‘struggle’ with using a part of the surgery set up for the surgery nurse who , among other well appreciated duties, also gives the jab.

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