Australians are being ordered away from beaches by police helicopters as the country’s lockdown continues, and a top doctor warned there is a ‘close to zero’ chance of eliminating the Delta variant of Covid and the AstraZeneca jab must be used to quell surging cases.
While Covid cases in the UK have fallen week-on-week for ten days in a row amid a lifting of restrictions and hopes that the pandemic could be shrinking, the situation is quite different in Austrialia, where armed forces and thousands of police officers are now enforcing the country’s ‘Zero Covid’ lockdown.
Just 17% of adults in the country have been vaccinated, and now Sydney’s five million inhabitants are under a strict stay-at-home order due to a worrying surge of nearly 3,000 infections since the middle of June.
Streets around the Coogee and Bondi beaches were packed with locals as thousands made the most of the 25C heat, despite pleas from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stay at home, prompting police to call in air support to order people off the sand.
‘Nearly 1000 people were spoken to, ensuring they were complying with the LGA requirement,’ said a NSW Police spokesman. ‘Officers were also enforcing QR codes at large retailers at Maroubra, Bondi and Eastgardens.’
For weeks, Ms Berejiklian has been begging Sydneysiders to only leave their home for essentials like exercise, shopping, vital work or getting vaccinated.
‘Assume that you have the virus, or that people you come into contact with have the virus,’ she has repeatedly told the state. We can’t afford to have people who have the virus going about their business.’
Now Professor Bruce Robinson, chairman of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, is calling for a rapid vaccine rollout in his country to address the snowballing outbreaks in Queensland and New South Wales, saying people cannot ‘afford to be hesitant’.
‘The chance of eliminating this is close to zero — there are many people I have spoken to who share that view,’ he said. ‘We might suppress it but we will be really unlikely to eliminate it and that’s because we see people who are clearly infectious without knowing it and they’re out and about.’
Earlier this week the former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, said there were ‘some scientists’ who wanted no restrictions to be lifted until there was ‘zero Covid’.
Bondi Beach, Sydney: Police check IDs to ensure visitors to the beach meet the exercise radius stipulated in lockdown directives
Eastern Suburbs beachgoers have made a mockery of the Sydney shutdown with a day at the beach turning the lockdown into a lie down in the sun. Seen here is one Bondi beachgoer on Sunday
Police officers check ID cards of people walking in the CBD in order to prevent an anti-lockdown protest, during lockdown in Sydney, Australia
Police check IDs in Sydney’s Bondi Beach to ensure visitors meet the exercise radius stipulated in lockdown directives
Streets around the world famous beaches of Coogee (seen here) and Bondi were packed with locals making the most of the wintry sun which saw temperatures ride above 25C
Hundreds ignored pleas from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stay at home and instead packed the streets of Coogee (pictured) and Bondi
He told The Telegraph: ‘The Government is constantly being assailed by scientists whose forecasts seem to be around fulfilling a purpose, keeping us in lockdown.
‘We are in a state of unreality, it’s as though we don’t need an economy, we don’t need to meet each other, we don’t need to do anything that makes life worthwhile. But we do.’
Professor Robinson, who is spearheading a ‘second opinion’ signed by some of the country’s top medical practitioners, recommending everybody get AstraZeneca, believes all restrictions on that version of the jab should be scrapped because there are not enough doses of Pfizer to go around.
‘This virus is spreading and there’s probably no stopping it,’ Professor Robinson told the Herald Sun.
The head of Australia’s top medical research organisation said the ruling by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation was ‘wrong’ and needs to be changed ‘ASAP’.
He explained the vaccine got a ‘really bad rap’ and the ATAGI advice was only appropriate for a time when Covid outbreaks were under control.
The professor said he believed there was now a ‘groundswell of medical opinion which feels ATAGI’s advice was wrong and that it needs to be publicly changed’.
A top doctor has warned that Australia has a ‘close to zero’ chance of eliminating the Delta variant of Covid-19 if restrictions aren’t removed for the AstraZeneca jab
He said this would encourage more Australians to get jabbed as the highly contagious variant continues to spread through Sydney and now Queensland.
ATAGI recommended Pfizer as the ‘preferred’ option for people younger than 60.
However, it changed its unofficial stance after the latest outbreak of Covid-19 began in Sydney on June 16.
The organisation now urges younger Sydneysiders to consider getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also vouched for a mass rollout of AstraZeneca, claiming recommendations from the ATAGI slowed inoculation rates.
Professor Robinson’s dire warning comes as a record number of young Australians rolled up their sleeves for AstraZeneca in the past four weeks.
More than 340,500 under 60s have received their jab with under 40s accounting for a staggering one third.
Bruce Robinson, the outgoing chairman of the National Health and Medical Research Council says the ATAGI ruling on the vaccine was ‘wrong’ and needs to be changed ‘ASAP’
Professor Robinson believes all restrictions on the AstraZeneca vaccine should be scrapped as there aren’t enough doses of Pfizer to go around
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is now urging younger Sydneysiders to consider getting the AstraZeneca vaccine
The massive uptick suggests a change in attitude to the AstraZeneca vaccine after its extremely rare blood clotting side effect fuelled hesitancy across the country.
Pharmacies are finally running out of the AstraZeneca vaccine with demand outpacing supply, with national vaccination rates also seeing an upward shift.
Around 39.46 per cent of Australians have received their first dose while 17.73 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
More than 78 per cent of over 70s have received their first dose while 39.5 per cent have received both.
Around 64.13 per cent of over 50s have received one dose, while 24.34 per cent are fully vaccinated.