Andrew Barr, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), said on Saturday that the region's coronavirus lockdown may not necessarily end when 70 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated as the country continues to battle the third wave of the pandemic.
The National Cabinet, which consists of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders, in July signed off on a government roadmap out of the pandemic.
Under the four-phase plan, which was based on modelling from the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, leaders agreed to ease coronavirus restrictions and gradually end lockdowns when 70 to 80 per cent of over 16 years in their respective states and territories are inoculated against Covid-19.
However, according to new modelling from the Doherty Institute, which was presented to the National Cabinet on Friday, abandoning lockdowns at 70 per cent vaccination rate when there are still active cases in the community could be a public health risk.
"Concerns had been raised at previous National Cabinet meetings about the scenarios presented in the August Doherty modelling technical report," Barr told reporters on Saturday.
He said the institute now advises that states and territories with Covid-19 outbreaks - given the observed sensitivity to high-seeding infections at 70 per cent - ongoing application of medium public health social measures at the time of transition to phase B (between 70 and 80 per cent vaccination rates) is deemed prudent in such cases, at least until the 80 per cent coverage threshold is achieved.
On Saturday morning, Australia reported 1,882 new locally acquired Covid-19 infections, which increased the overall caseload to 82,202. The death toll currently stood at 1,138.
So far about 70.5 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose and 45.4 per cent were fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health.