New approaches to virus risks to be discussed by leaders

National Cabinet will meet on Friday, with the next phase of the country's response to the pandemic to be the major topic for discussion. Picture: Getty Images
National Cabinet will meet on Friday, with the next phase of the country's response to the pandemic to be the major topic for discussion. Picture: Getty Images

National Cabinet will meet on Friday for the first time since Australia began the coronavirus vaccination rollout, with the next phase of the country's response to the pandemic to be the major topic for discussion.

State and territory leaders, as well as the Prime Minister, will receive a report from Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens looking at how Australia will live with coronavirus after the vaccine has been made available to all Australians this year.

When the national cabinet last met in February, the leaders agreed to create a new taskforce, led by Mr Gaetjens and his state and territory counterparts to advise leaders "about consistent and coordinated COVID-19 responses across jurisdictions in the new risk environment".

"The new taskforce will consider the changed risk indicators associated with new strains of the COVID-19, alongside the strength of risk responses to date and in the future, including most significantly the impact of the vaccine rollout commencing in late February," Scott Morrison said in a statement following the last meeting.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already signalled she wants the measurement of success against the virus to change from a goal of zero cases, to a goal of keeping people out of hospital.

It's a change of mindset that may be hard for some states, who have favoured quick lockdowns and closed borders after less than a handful of cases.

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State and territory leaders will also discuss the start of the vaccine rollout, with some states taking longer to ramp up their programs. The first AstraZeneca jabs will be administered in South Australia on Friday.

Leaders will also discuss arrangements for workers from the Pacific to come to Australia, as farmers warn the price of fresh fruit and vegetables is set to rise due to a lack of workforce.

The ongoing caps on returning international travellers will also be discussed, with tens of thousands of Australians still registered with the government attempting to return home.

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This story New approaches to virus risks to be discussed by state, territory leaders first appeared on The Canberra Times.