Victorian outbreak sparks vaccine calls

All eligible Australians are being urged to get vaccinated against coronavirus as an outbreak threatens to spread across Melbourne.

Victoria’s cluster of cases now totals more than 10, with authorities releasing dozens of exposure sites including the MCG where an infected person attended an AFL match on Sunday.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has denied federal government’s supplies are hampering the rollout despite Australia lagging well behind other nations.

“There are adequate supplies at this point so please go out and get vaccinated,” she told Sky News on Wednesday.

Ms Andrews said the concerning outbreak was another reminder the pandemic was far from over.

“As a government, we want to keep people safe. We want to protect them and help them protect their own health as much as we can, but we need people to go and get vaccinated.”

New restrictions have been imposed across Melbourne, including mandatory mask-wearing indoors and limits on gatherings, but the state government has so far resisted a lockdown.

There have been calls for the federal government to back Victoria’s plan to establish a new quarantine centre in Melbourne’s north to ease pressure on hotels.

Ms Andrews said the Commonwealth was doing its own due diligence but could not put a timeline on when a decision would be made.

“This is a very important proposal that has been put forward. It is a comprehensive proposal, which is excellent – that’s what we need.”

Labor is urging the government to redraft vaccination plans and scrap its tiered program for getting the jab.

Opposition frontbencher Bill Shorten has questioned the coalition’s staggered approach to the vaccine rollout.

Just under 3.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered across the country, well short of initial targets.

State and territory governments have opened vaccine eligibility to new groups ahead of the federal government.

NSW has expanded jabs to people aged between 40 and 49, while South Australia has announced people above 16 in regional areas are now eligible.

On Wednesday morning, Victoria’s health department confirmed there had been 10 new infections in 24 hours to midnight. This includes the five reported on Tuesday after the cut-off point.

States and territories have tightened borders with Victoria but stopped short of complete closures.

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