PM urges ‘proportionate response’ as Melbourne COVID cluster grows

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for Victoria to take a ‘proportionate response’ to its growing COVID-19 cluster while inspecting vaccine manufacturing facilities in Melbourne.

There are reports this morning Victorian authorities were up well into the night working out a response to the growing outbreak at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn quarantine hotel, which has grown to 13 cases.

It’s believed a snap lockdown is on the table. However, the Prime Minister refused to confirm the speculation.

“I will not speculate on what the Premier may or may not do,” he told reporters.

“I will let the Premier make his announcements and to weigh up the things that he has to weigh up in making any decisions that they will make here in Victoria.

Mr Morrison would only say he expected a “proportionate response” from Victoria.

“We have dealt with these before, got on top of them before,” he said.

“We have dealt with them in the last few weeks in Sydney and Brisbane and Perth.

“So a proportionate response by the Victorian Government .. that enables tracers to be able to get on top of it and get the same successful result we have seen in other states .. that can and will be achieved here.”

“I know you don’t want to see Victoria go back into what you had to endure last year.

“I can assure you that everyone is doing everything to ensure that is not replicated again on this occasion.

“As other states have demonstrated, you can get on top of this pretty quickly and I have reason for confidence that they can do the same thing by following that same process.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government was “closely monitoring” the situation.

“We had a phone hookup this morning with the Chief Health Officer and the Deputy Premier, who is the Acting Health Minister at the moment as well, and we understand that the Victorian Government may be making further announcements later on today.

“The Chief Health Officer and Deputy Premier will be updating Queenslanders following that advice and following the Victorian standup.”

It comes after the Prime Minister inspected the facilities of Melbourne-based biotechnology company CSL, which will enter the final stages of manufacturing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week.

Local manufacture of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, has been underway since late last year, despite the jab still awaiting approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Mr Morrison said the country’s vaccination program is on track.

“Our vaccination program is on track and it is sovereign,” he said.

“We are doing it here, in Australia, right here in Melbourne,” he said.

“That is something that few prime ministers and presidents around the world can say because we are one of a handful of countries that made the decision to be able to ensure we had this capability here in Australia by Australians.”

If the jab is approved, it’s expected the rollout can begin from late March.

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