AMA sounds alarm for future COVID outbreak

·3-min read

The country's peak medical group has urged the federal government to prepare for new COVID-19 outbreaks next year despite increasing vaccine rates.

Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr Chris Moy said the Commonwealth needed to work more closely with states and territories to ensure health systems were ready for future pandemic challenges.

While case numbers were declining nationally, Dr Moy said there was every chance numbers could spike next year due to new variants or waning vaccination protection among the population.

"The federal government cannot take its eye off COVID," Dr Moy told AAP.

"I don't think we can count our chickens at this moment in time.

"One thing we should've learnt from COVID by now is to expect the unexpected."

The national fully vaccinated rate now stands at 83.16 per cent, with the ACT and NSW being above 90 per cent.

Dr Moy said Australia should look to Europe for what the future may hold, with the continent experiencing a surge in cases despite early vaccine success.

"We're going into a honeymoon period in Australia but things are worse again in Europe," he said.

"It's really important (the Commonwealth) work with states and territories as close as possible."

The comments come after an article by Victoria's chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton criticised a lack of recovery preparation in the national plan.

The article urged the government to share with states and territories anticipated health care cost increases because patients have put off getting help for other issues during the past 18 months.

"It (is) as if we could all soon heave a sigh of relief and simply move on," Dr Sutton wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia article.

"Decision makers in health systems will need to spend early 2022 assessing and developing strategies in response to these problems, and this situation will be more confronting if new vaccine-resistant virus variants emerge."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would prioritise the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak.

"This is the big challenge facing Australia," he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

"We have one of the strongest, if not the strongest, economy of advanced economies in the world coming through the pandemic."

Fully immunised travellers can now enter Queensland after the state hit 70 per cent fully vaccinated.

Travellers will still need to undergo two weeks of home quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she expected the state to hit the 80 per cent vaccination target sooner than expected.

There were 860 cases in Victoria reported on Monday and five deaths while 165 cases and one fatality was registered in NSW.

The ACT recorded 10 new COVID-19 infections in its latest reporting period.

Meanwhile, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has ruled out further COVID lockdowns in the state as it prepares to reopen its borders.

Close contacts will only have to undergo quarantine for seven days if they are fully vaccinated as part of changes set to come into effect next week.

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