Australia National Cabinet to meet again with coronavirus vaccine, international arrivals on the agenda

17:08  21 january  2021
17:08  21 january  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a close up of Beverley Mitchell: Belinda Long is disappointed in the lack of assistance she has received from authorities in her attempts to return to Australia. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC Health Belinda Long is disappointed in the lack of assistance she has received from authorities in her attempts to return to Australia. (Supplied)

Belinda Long has two words to sum up how she feels about not being able to make it home.

"Abandonment and betrayal," she said.

"That's honestly what it feels like."

Ms Long lives in Chile, where she runs her own sandboarding tourism business.

She has spent months trying to get back to Australia but is sick of having flights cancelled and says she has not received support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

"Honestly, I've given up trying to come home," she said

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"It just leaves me really anxious, it's not good for the mental health.

"I'm now fighting to get the message out for other desperate Aussies that are trying to get home."

National Cabinet's decision to halve the number of international passengers allowed into three states has made it even more difficult for the 39,000 people registered as wanting to make it back from overseas.

From today, travellers will also face the extra requirement of having to return a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their departure.

President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, backed the new rule.


"There's obviously the chance you could miss people and they could catch COVID in that 72-hour-period or even on the plane," he said.

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"But if someone's already got it, at least we might reduce those numbers a bit and reduce the chance that in particular the new strain, the more transmissible strain will actually get out of our hotel quarantine system and into our community."

One Australian permanent resident, who wants to be known only as Ranney, has been trying to get a flight back to Australia since rushing to California for a family emergency late last year.

He said while he understood the reason for the tests, finding one with a fast enough turnaround time in the US was not cheap.

"You can go spend $200 on getting a test and then come to find out that the day before your flight that you're not going to be on it," he said.

"So not only now are you out the money that you've given the airline, but you're now out another $200 for an expensive same-day or 24-hour test.

"So I'm not really against the idea of having to get a test beforehand, that makes sense, but the practicalities of it can be expensive and tricky."

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Arrivals caps, vaccination strategy on the agenda at National Cabinet

The Federal Government recently announced 20 new repatriation flights, with the first two scheduled to bring people from London to Darwin on January 30 and February 1.

Australians who received notifications about the flights said they sold out within minutes.

Leaders will discuss the arrivals caps at today's National Cabinet meeting however they are not expected to announce any major changes.

They will also receive updates on the new COVID-19 strains and Australia's vaccination rollout plan.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has flagged raising the idea of using regional mining camps as quarantine facilities, something which received a lukewarm response from the Prime Minister this week.

"I haven't seen the proposal yet. I'm not aware that it has even come forward to the Federal Government," Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

"I think that's a bit of a way to go."

Ranney urged leaders to find a way to urgently boost the number of people who can return home.

"I think Australians deserve to have a quarantine system that is robust and can process the number of people and travellers that can come freely to and from the country because Australia can't be shut off from the rest of the world indefinitely," he said.

Ms Long agreed there should be an overhaul of the arrivals caps system, arguing many who were stranded were becoming increasingly desperate.

"It's the first time in my life I haven't been proud to be Australian, to be honest," she said.

"It's really, really disappointing."

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The Differences Between Covid Vaccines by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer, Astrazeneca .
Johnson & Johnson say their vaccine is 66 percent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot, which the company has said it will provide on a "non-profit" basis for the duration of the pandemic—costing around $10 a dose.

usr: 3
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