Australia’s island state is keeping its borders firmly closed until it has vaccinated 90 per cent of its eligible population, according to Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein.
Gutwein gave a live-streamed COVID-19 update on Wednesday and warned that if Tasmania opened once it reached the 80 per cent vaccination target, the virus would “take off”.
“Some people would get sick, some would get very sick, and unfortunately some Tasmanians would lose their lives,” he said.
Gutwein said that extrapolating on the national modelling from the Doherty Institute, if Tasmania were to open in line with the national 80 per cent target, the state will see 14,900 cases, up to 590 hospital admissions, 97 ICU admissions and close to 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,” the state’s Premier said.
The Doherty Institute’s modelling, which the national plan is based on, indicated it would be safe to reopen Australia once 70 to 80 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated.
“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,” Gutwein said.
“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.”
Just over 57 per cent of Tasmania’s eligible population have been fully vaccinated, with Australia as a whole sitting at 53 per cent.
Current projections show the country reaching 70 per cent by 23 October, and 80 per cent by 9 November.
Gutwein said Tasmania should reach its 90 per cent target by December.
Once borders do open, those travelling to Tasmania from states with “significant COVID” will need to be tested 72 hours before they leave and prove they are fully vaccinated.
“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,” Gutwein said.
Meanwhile, NSW’s Cross-Border Commissioner has warned that Queensland’s low vaccination rates could put a stop to restriction-free interstate travel before Christmas.
“I note that NSW is probably six weeks or so ahead of Queensland in achieving both 70 and 80 per cent,” said James McTavish, according to ABC News.
“As NSW reopens and cases do emerge in regional areas, that will bring with it some substantial challenges for border communities.”
McTavish said businesses needed state governments to coordinate plans for interstate travel well in advance of Christmas.
“The biggest challenge for the Queensland government now is to get more people vaccinated to allow the economy to reopen and those connections with other jurisdictions to recommence,” he said.
“The numbers, unfortunately, in some parts of Queensland are not as strong as they should be.
“That is going to present some opportunities for misalignment between NSW and Queensland going into Christmas.”
Just over 46 per cent of Queensland has been fully vaccinated, with only Western Australia sitting at a lower rate of 46 per cent.
NSW is currently sitting at 63 per cent.
Featured image source: Facebook/petergutweinmp