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Coronavirus outbreak in Sydney sparks calls to boost vaccination rates

Sydney coronavirus outbreak
Photo: Sydney cluster sparks calls to vaccinate
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected criticism of the government's vaccine rollout and involvement in quarantine amid Sydney's coronavirus outbreak.

Australia's state borders have begun to close ahead of the school holidays with a teetering coronavirus outbreak sparking fresh calls to boost vaccination rates.

Western Australia and South Australia will ban people from NSW, while Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania are shutting people from seven Sydney hotspots out.

With the Bondi cluster growing to 31, Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly declared the seven council areas Commonwealth coronavirus hotspots.

"I am worried. There has up to now been a very strong linkage between the cases but that has changed over the last 24 hours," he told reporters in Canberra.
"We have had the first of our super-spreader events."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced renewed questions about vaccine rollout urgency with around three per cent of adults having received both shots.

The government is keen to avoid that figure and instead points to two-thirds of Australians aged over 70 and almost half of over-50s receiving a single dose.

Mr Morrison accused Labor leader Anthony Albanese of "carping negativity" rather than having policy positions.

"The opposition has been invited for more than a year to join the government in our efforts to combat the virus," he told parliament on Wednesday.

"But throughout the pandemic they have chosen time and again to just pursue political point scoring rather than joining and supporting the national effort."

Mr Albanese aimed to renew his pressure on the prime minister over vaccines and quarantine, which Labor has pledged a centre for in each state.

"What will it take for this prime minister to fix his bungled vaccine rollout and establish a safe national system of quarantine?"

Just three in every 20 nursing home staff have been fully vaccinated, while one third of workers have received their first jab.

Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck revealed that data alongside the federal government's plan to distribute vaccines around the country for the rest of the year.

COVID-19 task force commander Lieutenant General John Frewen said the information would allow states to better plan their immunisation programs.

The document reveals AstraZeneca will likely be phased out of the rollout later in the year with supplies subject to state and territory requests from October.

That vaccine is no longer recommended for people under 60 over extremely rare but serious blood clots which have claimed two lives from more than 3.8 million doses.

Up to 2.3 million - with 1.5 million to GPs and the rest to state vaccination hubs - Pfizer doses could be allocated every week between October and December.

Moderna will join the rollout from September with between 87,000 and 125,000 doses forecast to be distributed weekly.

An additional 50,000 Pfizer doses will be provided to NSW by Friday.

The federal government has also forged ahead with building a new $200 million purpose-built Victorian quarantine centre.

The plan will not face the scrutiny of the public works committee, allowing it to be fast-tracked.

There are reports the federal government is warming to Victoria's preferred site at Mickelham in Melbourne's north rather than near Avalon airport.

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