Quarantine needs work before borders open

Matt CoughlanAAP
Australia is forecast to reach 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage in mid-November.
Camera IconAustralia is forecast to reach 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage in mid-November. Credit: AAP

Australia is being urged to shore up its quarantine system ahead of international travel resuming when a key coronavirus vaccination milestone is reached.

The Morrison government is planning to lift outbound travel restrictions and has encouraged states to shift to home isolation at 80 per cent double-dose coverage.

While that mark is expected to be hit in mid-November, Jane Halton - who has twice reviewed the nation's quarantine arrangements - says more work needs to be done.

The leading health expert believes the system is not yet ready for international borders to reopen.

"We should be clear that it'll be a limited, probably, opening in that early point and remembering of course that each of our states and territories are in a different place," Ms Halton told the ABC on Wednesday.

The coalition for epidemic preparedness chair said travel would depend on getting vaccination rates up to reduce risks of people isolating in the community and ensuring robust systems.

"To make it a success, we need to use technology to make sure people are where they say they are," Ms Halton said.

"We also need to make sure that we can test to ensure that they haven't developed COVID."

Victoria has joined NSW and South Australia in running a home quarantine trial using facial recognition and location technology.

Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner believes a seven day quarantine program being trialled in NSW will be excessive for travellers arriving in states where the virus is circulating.

Mr Turner said fully vaccinated people who return a negative test should only have to isolate for one or two days at home.

"If you look at New South Wales, a traveller returning fully vaccinated, negative before they take off and after they land, they're a lot less risk of passing on the virus than someone walking down the street," he told Nine.

He expects people visiting family and friends overseas will be the first to take off when the border reopens, followed by tourism and business travel.

Cabinet's national security committee is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the path forward on reopening international borders.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released a new app allowing border officials to read coronavirus vaccination and testing certificates.

Immunisation passports will start being issued from Friday.

Victoria's outbreak continues to surge with another pandemic-high 950 new local cases along with seven more deaths.

Nearly 50 per cent of its over-16 population is fully vaccinated while the first dose rate is on the verge of 80 per cent.

NSW, which has double-dose and partial vaccination rates of 63 and 86 per cent respectively,recorded 863 new local cases and 15 deaths.

Queensland recorded one new case on Wednesday as authorities try to jump on two clusters just days before Sunday's NRL grand final in Brisbane.

Its immunisation rates, 46 per cent full and 65 per cent partial coverage, continue to lag behind every other state and territory except Western Australia.

Nationally, 53.42 per cent of the over-16 population is fully vaccinated while the first dose rate is around 77 per cent.

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