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Senin, 03 Mei 2021

AstraZeneca vaccine now available to all Australians over 50 as controversial India travel ban comes into effect - SBS News

The federal government is standing firm on its threat to jail travellers trying to return from India, as the states and territories begin a new phase to vaccinate people aged 50 years and over.

From Monday, people aged 50 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at general practice respiratory clinics and state and territory vaccination clinics.

On 17 May, the vaccination program under Phase 2b will be expanded to GP surgeries.

Up to 15.8 million doses are available for this part of the rollout, which includes catching up on any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said regulators and experts were continuing to look carefully at every report of adverse reactions including blood clots.

"My clear message is that the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk. People are seeing what's happening in India," he told ABC radio on Monday.

Professor Kelly said the rollout's objective was to keep Australia safe in navigating the path out of the pandemic.

"An outbreak could happen in Australia so please do not hesitate," he said.

"This is not a compulsory vaccine so people have their choice but waiting until the end of the year is not advised."

National COVID-19 Commissioner Jane Halton said Australia needed to catch up on its vaccination rollout to avoid a major outbreak.

"We need to get on with this," she told the Nine Network.

"The only way that we get out of the pandemic is that we either get the disease or get vaccinated."

Professor Kelly was coy about reports Australia has been in talks with French biotech giant Valneva about its coronavirus vaccine.

"We're continuing to have discussions with a range of companies around the world about purchasing any of those," he said.

Labor has criticised the government for its narrow vaccine portfolio with AstraZeneca and Pfizer the only ones in use, while the unapproved Novavax is expected to join the rollout later in the year.

India flight ban

With direct flights from India suspended due to the Asian nation's COVID-19 crisis, travellers trying to take a different route home could face five years' jail or a hefty fine.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Sunday rejected suggestions that blocking travellers from India was racist.

"Absolutely not in any way," she said in Canberra.

"We absolutely recognised the very, very difficult circumstances occurring in India right now.

"The decision which has been made under the Biosecurity Act on the basis of the advice of the chief medical officer is a temporary pause on returns."

WATCH: India's infections of coronavirus cross 18 million

Indirect routes via Doha, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore have also been closed off, with India's daily COVID-19 case tally topping 400,000 on the weekend.

The Australian Human Rights Commission wants the Morrison government to prove that its decision to fine or jail Australians is "not discriminatory".

Senior Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Connor said he was surprised the government is taking such a stance.

"I believe that the ban on flights would be sufficient to prevent people coming back to Australia," Mr O'Connor told ABC's Insiders program.

But Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has backed the policy, which blocks incoming travel from India until at least 15 May when the decision will be reassessed.

"It is very harsh, it is very difficult, it is very unusual but we live in unusual times so yes, I do (support it)," Mr McGowan said.

"We are obviously in a dangerous world and we want to make sure we prevent the importation and the spread of the virus within Australia."

More than 9000 Australians in India are registered as wanting to return, including 650 considered vulnerable.

Mr McGowan said he had been advised 4500 Australians had been allowed to travel to India for various reasons in the first three months of the year.

"That was clearly was a mistake," he said.

Perth has avoided another lockdown but some restrictions have resumed after a hotel quarantine security guard and two of his housemates tested positive.

Authorities are continuing to track down close contacts of the three men.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania

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2021-05-02 21:09:01Z
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