Australia’s PM defends Covid vaccine rollout as half of population awakes in lockdown

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has refused to apologise for his government’s handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, amid testy exchanges during a radio interview as more than 13 million Australians – or half of the population – awoke in lockdown conditions.

Morrison carried out a whistle-stop tour of radio stations on Wednesday as Covid measures spread further into the state of New South Wales, while Victoria reported a record one-day increase in cases and South Australia began its first full day of a week-long lockdown.

The opposition Labor party has ramped up its pressure on the government, saying the latest restrictions were only necessary because of a lack of vaccine supplies.

Despite repeatedly being pushed to apologise for the “nightmare” vaccine rollout during an interview on Kiis FM, Morrison refused, saying only that the government was focused on “fixing the problems”. To date just over 11% of Australians are fully vaccinated.

“We have had our problems, there is no doubt about that, and they are problems that are not always things within our control, that is the nature of Covid 19,” Morrison said.

The host, Jason Hawkins, disse: “I’m not trying to have a go, I think it is just frustration, we are in lockdown. Can you just say ‘sorry Jase’? It will make me feel so much better and then I feel like I can move on.”

Dopo, that frustration was not helped by a request that only vaccinated reporters attend the prime minister’s afternoon press conference.

In New South Wales, the state premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced 110 further cases, crediting the high number to a record 84,000 tests being carried out in the state, where the Greater Sydney region is in lockdown until at least the end of July.

“We’re scooping up all the cases we can find and making sure we get to those chains of community transmission. Thank you. Thank you again," lei disse.

On Tuesday night, the state’s lockdown area grew, with the regional shires of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne added to the list, affecting about 50,000 persone.

Pressed on whether the government was aiming to have zero cases before lifting restrictions, New South Wales authorities stressed the transmissibility of the Delta variant, saying that whereas in the last outbreak, one infected person in a household had, on average, infected 30% of the household, the Delta variant meant every household member was becoming infected.

The number that the state government wanted to see was zero cases who were infectious in the community. Martedì, 60 people were not in isolation for at least part of their infectious period.

The state of Victoria also saw record testing, and announced its highest one-day case total in 10 mesi, con 22 infections confirmed in 24 ore. Victoria extended its lockdown this week until at least midnight 27 luglio. “We could not be more thankful and with could not be more indebted to you,” said the Victorian health minister, Martin Foley.

South Australia’s Covid cluster grew to five, and the state premier, Steven Marshall, thanked the people as the state entered a week-long lockdown.

Later on Wednesday, Morrison was pressed on the vaccine rollout, and in particular hesitancy among Australians to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. Asked whether he would consider appealing to experts at the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to change their advice and allow under-40s to receive AstraZeneca, he responded: “It’s a constant appeal. I can assure you: it’s a constant appeal.”

Australia hit 1m vaccine doses in seven days for the first time on Wednesday, Egli ha detto. The US, by comparison, hit one million doses a day in January.

Earlier, on another radio station, Morrison was asked if he regretted saying “it’s not a race” in March, when asked about vaccines. In response he claimed that he had been talking about approving the vaccines. “I don’t think Australians wanted us to cut corners when it comes to the vaccines that were put in people’s arms that affect their health, I think they would have wanted us to have followed every proper process.”

tuttavia, Morrison’s comments about the vaccine program not being a race were made after the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were approved in January and February respectively.

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