Tasmania needs 90 per cent COVID vaccination rate before fully opening borders, Premier warns

The Tasmanian Premier has warned that the island state will not reopen its borders to all of the country until it reaches a 90 per cent vaccination rate against COVID-19.Key points:Premier Peter Gutwein says Tasmania could record nearly 15,000 COVID cases within six months if it reopened its borders when it reached 80pc vaccinatedState-specific modelling for COVID cases once Tasmania reaches a 90 per cent vaccination threshold will be released next monthTasmania is still on track to reopen its borders to the rest of the nation by ChristmasAt a press conference in Hobart, Peter Gutwein warned of the loss of lives and quick spread of COVID-19 if the state opened too soon. “If we were to relax border restrictions at 80 per cent [vaccinated], COVID would enter Tasmania and it would take off,” Mr Gutwein said.”Some people would get sick, some would get very sick, and unfortunately some Tasmanians would lose their lives.”Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously outlined that he had hoped states and territories would reopen their borders once the country reached an 80 per cent vaccination rate.The Tasmanian government has commissioned state-specific modelling from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, which is due to be released in mid-October.In the meantime, Mr Gutwein said the state had extrapolated the national Doherty Institute modelling for Tasmania on a per capita basis, which showed a “very concerning set of circumstances”.”Drawing from that national model … [it] tells us that if we were to open at 80 per cent to those larger states with Delta and let the virus into Tasmania, the following outcomes would occur even if we keep in place our current baseline restrictions and maintain while we can a high level of testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine,” he said.”Over the first six months that modelling tells us … that we would see 14,900 cases, up to 590 hospital admissions, 97 ICU admissions and nearly 100 deaths.”It’s important that as we move forward and prepare ourselves for when Delta will one day be here, that we take every step that we possibly can … to protect ourselves and, importantly, vaccinate ourselves.”LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemicThe Doherty Institute modelling is the data behind the vaccine targets set by National Cabinet for Australia to start moving closer to life as it was before the pandemic.It concluded that despite high numbers of new infections, reopening the country would be safe when Australia reached its vaccine target of 70 to 80 per cent.The modelling seeks to estimate at what point enough people will be protected from getting sick or dying from COVID-19 that they will not pose too great a burden on the health system.”Our Tasmania-specific modelling has been asked to take into account the higher vaccination rate of 90 per cent of eligible Tasmanians and also the fact that we have a more dislocated, less dense population base than other states, which should assist with dampening the spread of the disease when it does eventually arrive here,” Mr Gutwein said.”We’re targeting the 90 per cent vaccination rate before we consider exposing ourselves to high-risk areas to mitigate what the modelling is telling us.”One of the key reasons we want to get to 90 per cent is that around 90 per cent there will still be around 130,000 Tasmanians who aren’t vaccinated.”There is evidence that children are at a much lower risk of serious disease from the virus, however this still leaves around 45,000 adults across a range of age groups who will unvaccinated and at clear risk of serious illness. “We must hit these vaccination targets. It’s not a silver bullet but it will ensure that you don’t get as sick and importantly it will limit the number of people who will potentially die.”Read more about the spread of COVID-19 in Australia:Public health director Dr Mark Veitch said the new modelling commissioned for Tasmania would provide a more favourable outlook for the state’s pathway through the pandemic.”I think those [Doherty] numbers are realistic to have in mind as health planners, as people thinking about how their businesses and lives might be in the first six months of COVID,” he said.”It will, however, be important to look at other models, every model that is done it will produce slightly different information but it will be valuable to have models that specifically look at Tasmanian circumstances and that’s what’s being produced.Ask us your questions about COVID-19Do you have a question about Coronavirus/ COVID-19 you would like the ABC to investigate?Read more”Within the coming weeks we’ll have a very good idea of what coronavirus is likely to look like in the first few months after we have coronavirus spreading in our community.”Mr Gutwein has previously outlined that he wants all eligible Tasmanians aged 12 and over to have had the option to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the state opens its borders.Tasmania currently has border restrictions in place for all of Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT, and has declared a number of premises high-risk in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. “We should hit our target for the over 16 cohort by the first of December, and the remaining 12- to 15-year-olds should be completed shortly thereafter,” Mr Gutwein said. Tasmania is aiming for 90 per cent of its population to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.(Reuters: Carl Recine)Border reopening likely by ChristmasMr Gutwein also gave an insight into what life could be like in Tasmania once the state reaches its vaccination target of 90 per cent, including potential border entry requirements.”For example, asking those who want to travel to Tasmania from states that have got significant COVID to be tested in the 72 hours before they leave and have a negative test, [and] importantly travel for double vaccinated passengers only,” he said.”We’re also considering whether or not there are tests that need to be taken once people arrive within a short period of time and whether or not there may be a short period of quarantine depending on the jurisdiction they’re coming from.”What is key and what we know is that when we do open our borders to those larger states that the virus will end up in Tasmania.”Mr Gutwein said Tasmania is on track to reopen its borders by Christmas, and for 90 per cent of its eligible population to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 1.Dr Veitch said it would be unlikely that Tasmania would set a “freedom day” from restrictions once vaccination targets have been met.”The concept of freedom day parties and big gatherings, there’s plenty of experience from other parts of the world where that clearly contributes to super spreader events and kicks the spread of coronavirus along in those countries,” he said.”I think we want to take it cautiously but of course we want to get out of a state of restriction as soon as we possibly can.”Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 8 minutes 10 seconds8m Do we really need booster vaccines for COVID-19?What you need to know about coronavirus:Loading form…

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