NSW wants more vaccines as outbreak grows

·3-min read

Australia's leaders have been urged to redirect vaccines to Sydney's coronavirus epicentre after NSW recorded an outbreak-high infection increase.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appealed for extra Pfizer doses to vaccinate younger people in Sydney's west and southwest.

The 136 new local cases reported on Friday prompted the state's Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant to declare the situation a national emergency.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will chair a national cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders later in the day.

Harsh restrictions have been further tightened in the worst-affected areas of Sydney.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wants NSW to go further with police and military patrolling containment lines around Australia's biggest city.

"Sydney is on fire with the virus," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"We need a ring of steel around Sydney."

Ms Berejiklian warned the vaccine rollout was crucial to stopping the virus seeping to other states and preventing further lockdowns.

"This is not just a challenge for New South Wales but a challenge for the nation," she told reporters in Sydney.

"In order for us to have our citizens live freely and openly, as well as other states to ensure that their citizens live openly and freely, we need to have a national refocus."

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told a Senate committee it was a "very serious situation" in NSW.

Vaccine co-ordinator John Frewen said there was no formal request from NSW for extra Pfizer doses.

With no extra Pfizer in reserve, any increase would have to come from other states' allocations.

Lieutenant General Frewen said immunisation was one response to outbreaks which could also be tackled through lockdowns, testing, tracing and social distancing.

"Throwing vaccine at one geographic area does not give an immediate solution," he said.

He said a revised immunisation plan would be released after national cabinet meets.

It will cover increased co-ordination, boosting public confidence and ensuring a safe and efficient rollout

Just 15 per cent of the nation's population aged 16 and above have received both jabs.

AstraZeneca remains the preferred vaccine for people aged 60 because of extremely rare blood clots.

Mr Morrison and Ms Berejiklian have encouraged younger people to speak with a doctor about having that jab.

The prime minister has challenged the expert immunisation panel ATAGI to reconsider its advice to boost immunisation rates amid outbreaks.

ATAGI co-chair Allen Cheng said there had been no change to advice after the panel met on Wednesday.

Final approval for children aged between 12 and 15 to receive the Pfizer jab is expected to be given by the end of next week.

Those who are immunocompromised and with underlying health conditions will be prioritised.

Pregnant women were overnight added as a priority group for vaccination.

Victoria recorded 14 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to Friday, raising hopes restrictions could be eased next week.

South Australia, which is also in lockdown, reported one new case on Friday.

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