PM warns WA to prepare for Delta spread

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Western Australia's low coronavirus vaccination rate and lack of restrictions means the Delta variant will eventually spread "rapidly" through the population, Scott Morrison has warned.

The prime minister has taken aim at Mark McGowan over the WA premier's refusal to commit to national targets for reopening the country.

Mr McGowan has declared WA won't remove state border closures once 70 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

"When it's above 80 per cent, we'll make a judgment," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We'll probably set a date at some point in time when we're confident that ... people have the opportunity to get themselves vaccinated.

"But I've learnt during the period of COVID, pre-empting things, setting out hard and fast dates doesn't work - because things change."

Less than a third of eligible West Australians are fully vaccinated, while a decision to postpone hundreds of elective surgeries at overcrowded hospitals has cast doubt on the state's capacity to handle a major virus outbreak.

The prime minister said WA needed to ready its health system and implement "common sense" restrictions to eventually live with the virus.

"If Delta were to come to Western Australia - which it eventually will, and I think the premier understands that - then it would move quite rapidly through the population," he told Perth radio 6PR.

"So the task is to prepare."

Mr Morrison urged West Australians to get vaccinated so they could travel internationally and reunite with loved ones.

"When you get to more than double where you are now, the level of protection is like living in another world," he said.

Mr McGowan said confirmation that the AFL grand final will be played in Perth vindicated his government's management of the virus.

"We had a Delta outbreak in June and we locked down and we eliminated it. And we've now put up borders to keep it out," he said.

"At some point in time, the virus might get in. I can't predict that but I'll do everything I can to stop it coming in and stop it infecting our citizens."

West Australians have overwhelmingly supported border closures which have allowed them to live without local restrictions.

A lack of major outbreaks and extended lockdowns is thought to be the main factor behind WA's lagging vaccination rate.

The month-long freeze on elective surgeries, beginning on Wednesday, will apply to non-urgent, multi-day category two and three procedures.

It comes despite the state having a negligible virus caseload.

Mr McGowan has partly blamed the hospital crisis on the Commonwealth, saying there were hundreds of patients occupying beds who should be managed by the NDIS or in aged care.

But the prime minister said since coming to office, his administration had increased hospital funding at four times the rate of the WA government.

"Hospitals are a state responsibility and they're getting significant funding from the federal government," he said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting