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Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns reopening Australia’s borders could lead to ‘5000 cases a day’

The Prime Minister has issued a stern reality check to Australians hoping high vaccination rates will mean reopened borders.

Scott Morrison has issued a grim warning that high rates of vaccination in Australia may not stop the virus if our international borders reopen, confirming that authorities are carefully monitoring the situation in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister said today that it was a simple fact that vaccination prevented serious illness and hospitalisations but he cautioned that it did not eradicate Covid.

That suggests many restrictions including social distancing, hotel quarantine and in some cases even mask wearing may need to continue even after Australia is vaccinated.

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And he warned the example of Britain, where high vaccination rates have not stopped hospitalisations from new variants was a real concern.

“Well, we know at the present time, that people who are vaccinated can still pass on the virus,” he said.

“What the vaccination does is it prevents you from getting a serious illness. The key figure going forward will be how many people are suffering serious illness, and that‘s what we are watching closely in the United Kingdom.

“The reason why the United Kingdom extended their restrictions, was despite the fact they have a high level of vaccination, they were seeing hospitalisations from the new variant increase, and so we can’t kid ourselves that this virus is not unpredictable, it is unpredictable. And we learn more about it each day, but equally it mutates and it causes new strains all the time.

“We will need to watch the experience in other places and have to make decisions to keep Australians safe and protect lives and protect livelihoods.”

Speaking on Sunrise, the Prime Minister slammed suggestions he had messed up the vaccine rollout noting the death toll overseas.

“In the United States and UK, it has been an absolute fatal calamity. That has not occurred in Australia,” he said.

“Yes, we will get outbreaks from time to time and will deal with those outbreaks, but it would be a mistake to think that if we have high rates of vaccination that you won‘t get cases. The UK is approving the exact opposite.“

But he warned reopened borders posed huge risks, raising new questions over whether Australia is even on track to lift restrictions in mid 2022.

“The strains are unpredictable, the variance and their impact on future vaccines and all the rest of it is unpredictable. And once you let it in, you can‘t get it out,’’ he told Sunrise.

“And I’m not going to recklessly exchange places with countries in the rest of the world who are suffering from that problem where they’ve got people dying every day. That is not happening in Australia.

“If we take the other steps that others are suggesting, we have to be comfortable with 5000 cases a day. I don‘t think Australians would be happy.”

The Prime Minister said he supported the stance of the NSW Premier and wasn’t surprised the state had chosen not embrace a full lockdown immediately.

“No, I am not, because that has always been, I think, their determination through this process where we go back to the situation earlier in the year, they didn‘t shut the whole city down,’’ he told the Today program.

“My family is back in Sydney. I was talking to Jen and the girls last night and they will be doing what everybody else in Sydney is doing.

“But everybody knows to get out of this current situation we have to follow those rules and I have no doubt that the NSW Government will ease those restrictions the second they can.”

But on Nine’s Today Show, host Karl Stefanovic challenged the PM if he had thought about the fact that the pace of the vaccine rollout could cost him the next election.

“That is the last thing on my mind, Karl. I am simply doing everything we can to save lives and livelihoods,” he replied.

“More than 20 people died in the UK yesterday. That is not happening in Australia. And Australians understand that. And so we will continue to ramp up the vaccination program.

“It had its challenges on the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the medical advice, and we have responded to that and we have ramped up the vaccination program. So it is just important that we just get on with it, Karl. I will leave the politics to others.”

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