In some positive news today, more overseas stranded Australians will soon be able to return each fortnight with a quarantine facility in the Top End given the all-clear to increase its capacity by 135%.
Capacity at the Howard Springs quarantine facility near Darwin will increase to 2000 per fortnight up from 850, over the coming months.
The decision was made on Friday at a national cabinet meeting between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders.
Mr Morrison said the limits for other states would stay the same, with the federal government encouraging Victoria to accept international flights again.
Victoria has not been accepting flights from overseas since the virus again leaked from hotel quarantine, prompting a 5-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown across the state.
It is understood 10,000 Victorians are seeking to return home from overseas with an estimated 40,000 plus Australians in total still seeking to be repatriated.
Senator Birmingham says other states are carrying the load.
“It would be a much fairer arrangement if Victoria did its bit.”
As of Thursday evening, more than 71,000 people have been vaccinated, including 20,000 aged care residents.
GP clinics will soon be part of the rollout, with Health Minister Greg Hunt saying officials would be responding to thousands of clinics from Friday to finalise arrangements.
It comes as the first AstraZeneca jabs have been administered in Australia after a shipment arrived on Sunday.
Frontline health workers at the Murray Bridge Hospital, east of Adelaide, have been the first to get the new jab, which is initially being rolled out to South Australi and Western Australia.
Europe blocked 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneza coronavirus vaccine from being sent to Australia, but it will not affect the rollout.
Mr Hunt said the doses had not been factored into distribution numbers for the states and territories.
Australia has asked for a review of the decision, which saw Italy receive approval to use the European Union’s export control system for the first time amid rising tensions about vaccine shortages.
“It is arguably the most intensely competitive international environment since, perhaps, the Second World War,” Mr Hunt said.
He said while 3.8 million doses of AstraZeneca were due to arrive from overseas, 50 million are being made locally in Victoria.
The first doses of the locally made jab are due to administered from March 22.
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