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Sunday, February 28, 2021

PM says additional vaccine doses secured, WA bushfires ‘concerning’, conversation with POTUS ‘warm’

PM says additional vaccine doses secured, WA bushfires ‘concerning’, conversation with POTUS ‘warm’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today Australia had secured an additional 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer and its rollout remained on track, however in less positive news, bushfires in the Perth Hills remained concerning.

Perth bushfires threaten lives and property

The Prime Minister said the situation in the northern and north-east suburbs of Perth continued to be “dangerous” and there remained the potential for gusts of up to 60/70km carrying fire embers several kilometres ahead of the main fire.

The fire has so far destroyed 71 properties, two firefighting vehicles and spanned 10,000 hectares.

Around 1,300 homes and businesses were without power after “significant” damage to the network including 800 poles, 100 transformers and total loss of telecommunications.

Some Perth residents and rural communities have been evacuated.

The Prime Minister said he “remained concerned” for those fighting the fire, as the weather conditions were “not assisting” and a number of firefighters had received minor injuries.

“It does occur in the course of their work and they understand that,” Mr Morrison said.

“None-the-less we are concerned for their safety.

“Two large air tankers will assist, but it remains a concerning situation.”

‘Warm and engaging’ conversation with President Biden

A positive Scott Morrison said his first conversation with the newly elected President of the United States (POTUS) Joe Biden was “warm and engaging”.

“There is nothing to fix there, just to build on,” Mr Morrison said.

He said the two leaders had reflected upon the importance of the relationship as the 70-year anniversary of the ANZUS alliance approached.

“Our relationship is the anchor for peace and stability in the region,” Mr Morrison said.

“We stood with the US then, as we do now and always will.”

Vaccine update

The Prime Minister announced Australia had secured an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, taking the nation’s stock to 150 million doses, and the rollout of the vaccine was “on track” and “consistent with our requirement under the strategy”.

Mr Morrison said the additional doses would ensure Australia was “doing our part” to combat the pandemic “in this part of the world” and said we were ahead of our neighbours New Zealand in the rollout.

Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt said there had been some recent reduction in global daily cases, but Australia was faring much better with only one community case in Victoria today – and no lives lost – and none in January, against a global figure of 400,000.

“We are safe at home, there are challenges abroad,” he said.

Mr Hunt announced $2.4 million to support multi-cultural communities access the vaccines, including advertising in 32 languages and providing “explainers” in 29 languages.

“The uptake of the vaccine is very important, and we will work with the culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

Mr Hunt said everyone on Australian soil should be safe and have access to protection, and the Government would offer all people the COVID vaccine for free, including refugees and people whose visas have been cancelled.

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