Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is saying that the country will need to learn to live with COVID, and start lifting its lockdown restrictions, once more of the population becomes vaccinated...
... despite concerns about the impact of the recent surge in cases in Sydney.
''Once you get to 70% of your country that is eligible for the vaccine, and 80%, the plan sets out that we have to move forward. We cannot hold back."
The federal government last month unveiled a four-stage plan to relax restrictions once 70% of over 16s are vaccinated.
With over half of all Australians stuck in weeks-long lockdowns to curb the highly infectious Delta strain, Morrison said the country had to move forward.
''We must adjust our mindset. Cases will not be the issue once we get above 70%. Dealing with serious illness, hospitalisation, ICU capabilities, our ability to respond in those circumstances, that will be our goal. And we will live with this virus, as we live with other infectious diseases. That's what the national plan is all about, was always about. That's how we designed it, and that's how it needs to be implemented."
The states of Western Australia and Queensland however, have flagged that they may not stick to a plan reached with the federal government even if vaccination rates hit 80%, raising concerns due to Sydney breaking new one-day records for infections.
While Australia has managed the pandemic better than many other developed countries, a slow vaccine rollout has taken the shine off its early success.
Nationally, 30% of people above 16 are fully vaccinated, while 52% have had a least one dose.
Vaccinations are running at a record pace but the target of 80% fully vaccinated will not be reached until December at the current rate.