'Really vulnerable': Warning over Aussie state opening up 'too soon'

·2-min read

A leading doctor has raised grave concerns about South Australia reopening, warning the state’s low vaccination rates makes it too risky.

Families were reunited yesterday after border restrictions were relaxed to allow fully-vaccinated arrivals from NSW and Victoria to enter.

So far more than 60,000 people have registered to come into the state in the coming days and weeks.

Australian Medical Association South Australia chief Dr Michelle Atchison appears on the Today Show warning it's too early for the state to reopen. Source: The Today Show
AMA South Australia chief Dr Michelle Atchison is worried about South Australia’s ability to cope with Covid-19 as border restrictions are eased. Source: The Today Show

But Australian Medical Association (AMA) South Australia chief, Dr Michelle Atchison, said it’s “too early” to open borders as the state’s hospital system is already stretched to the limit.

“Our hospital system is groaning and it isn’t coping with what we have got at the moment, without any Covid,” she told the 9 Network’s Today Show.

"We’ve got ramping, we’ve got extraordinary waiting times, we have got elective surgery being pushed into the public sector.

"SA Health have have some plans as to how we are going to cope, but we have to put that into action in the coming weeks."

SA vaccine rates lagging

With only 78 per cent of the state’s eligible population double dosed, Dr Atchison fears country areas will be left vulnerable to Covid outbreaks.

"There are different numbers floating around but 80 per cent (full vaccination) was the number that we felt was the safest one to open up at," she said.

"But unfortunately we are not at 80 per cent, and that leaves pockets of the population particularly vulnerable.

Doctor or nurse in a laboratory preparing a vaccine for a patient. Source: Getty Images
Only 78 per cent of the South Australia's eligible population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Source: Getty Images

“And our border community, for example, up in the Riverland or Bordertown, down in Mt Gambier, they will be the ones that are first hit by this," Dr Atchison said.

"And they don't have intensive care units, and they don't have the capacity to cope with a really large outbreak."

She blamed vaccine “complacency” on the state’s past success in containing outbreaks of the virus.

"It is all about health literacy, about people understanding that COVID-19 is a serious illness," she said.

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