The NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has called for national unity to help rid Australia of the deadly Delta variant and recurring Covid-19 lockdowns.
Responding to a question from ABC host David Speers on Insiders on Sunday, Brad Hazzard said leaving states to deal with outbreaks and vaccinations on their own would not help free Australians from the pandemic.
“I did hear one Premier basically saying: ‘Well, we’ll run our own race’,” he said.
“It can’t be that way. Every state and every territory must get to the (70 to 80 per cent) target in order for that to be an effective outcome.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had requested additional Pfizer vaccines from other states to help combat their worsening outbreak, but the plea fell on deaf ears at national cabinet last month.
Mr Hazzard also confirmed at least 80 per cent of people in NSW would need to be vaccinated before broad lockdowns no longer existed and the state can be entirely free from restrictions.
Mr Hazzard said both he and Premier Gladys Berejiklian believed the vaccination rate would need to reach 80 per cent before restrictions could be “freed up”.
Only 18.7 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated at the moment.
Mr Hazzard told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday that he and Ms Berejiklian “always thought that we needed to get to around about 80 per cent before we could expect the freeing up of the restrictions”.
“I think it will be quite a while before the world is completely able to go back to what it was like,” he said.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that at a nationwide vaccination rate of 80 per cent broad lockdowns would no longer exist, and those who were vaccinated would be given greater freedoms including on travel.
Sydney is now entering its second month of hard lockdown, with daily case increases indicating the spread of the Delta variant is not slowing down.
When asked whether modelling showed if it would be feasible for NSW to reach zero cases within its current four week lockdown deadline, the NSW Health Minister again emphasised the importance of an all-in approach from Australians.
“It’s not just government. This is about the community,” Mr Hazzard said,
“It’s entirely dependent on the response of the community.”
Mr Hazzard praised NSW residents that despite mixed messaging from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and the federal government, the community was “waking up” to the fact that getting vaccinated was the “one thing we can all do” to help tackle the Delta variant.
The Prime Minister announced on Friday that states can only move to the next transition stage – ‘Phase B’ of managing the virus – if the entire country reaches a vaccination average of 70 per cent.
“To get to that next phase, all of Australia has to get there together,” Mr Morrison said.
The target needed for ‘Phase C’ – meaning an end to broad lockdowns – is 80 per cent.
The NSW Health Minister urged eligible Sydneysiders to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca immediately.
“AstraZeneca is a very good vaccine. I had AstraZeneca, Dr Chant had AstraZeneca, the Premier had AstraZeneca,” Mr Hazzard said.
“The ATAGI advice has changed now – if you’ve over 18 you can go and get it.
“Get the vaccine and we’ll get out of this.”