The chances of Australians travelling internationally any time soon are looking bleak with the country’s secretary of health revealing it’s unlikely anyone will be getting on an overseas flight this year.
Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer throughout most of last year, said a substantial opening of borders was unlikely for 2021.
Asked if Australians could expect widespread opening of international borders this year, Professor Murphy told ABC News Breakfast, “I think the answer is probably no”.
“I think that we'll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions – even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he told the program.
“And it's likely that quarantine will continue for some time. One of the things about this virus is that the rule book has been made up as we go.”
Prof Murphy said he was careful with predicting more than two or three months ahead, given how rapidly changes occurred.
“I think at the moment, we've got this light at the end of the tunnel – the vaccine. So we're going to go as safely and as fast as we can to get our population vaccinated and then we'll look at what happens.”
Meanwhile, Australian authorities are chasing more details after Norway reported a small number of very frail people died after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says it may influence what advice the Therapeutic Goods Administration provides for Australia's vaccine rollout.
Mr Hunt says at this stage there is no change to Australia's planned vaccine program, which is due to start next month.
Most Australians want to be vaccinated
The government is planning to distribute the Pfizer vaccine as well as the locally produced AstraZeneca jab.
A survey of more than 1200 people by market researcher Roy Morgan has found more than three quarters of Australians are keen to be vaccinated.
Western Sydney residents are being urged to get tested after NSW reported six new cases of coronavirus.
And preparations for the Australian Open tennis tournament have been thrown into disarray after five more players tested positive for coronavirus.
More than 70 players have been forced into hard lockdown in hotel quarantine, meaning they will not be able to train for two weeks.
The influx of international sports stars has also shone a light on the thousands of Australians still stranded overseas and unable to come home.
The federal government has secured 20 additional charter flights to bring more Australians home before March.
But the government is facing calls to ramp up its efforts, with the global pandemic quickly becoming much worse across Europe and the United States.
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