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AMA Vice President Chris Moy. Source: Townsville Bulletin.
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  • Despite improving vaccination rates, doctors have warned that Australia’s hospitals are not ready to cope with the government’s reopening plans
  • The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said on Tuesday the health system is in danger of being locked in a “permanent cycle of crisis”
  • In July, Australia unveiled a four-stage reopening plan targeting vaccination levels of 70 to 80 per cent
  • Queensland and Western Australia, which are largely virus-free, said they may not stick to the plan they claim was signed under different circumstances
  • Just 36 per cent of people over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, well below the majority of comparable countries

Despite improving vaccination rates, doctors have warned that Australia’s hospitals are not ready to cope with the government’s reopening plans.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said on Tuesday the health system is in danger of being locked in a “permanent cycle of crisis” and called for new modelling to determine if staffing levels in hospitals can withstand a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“If you have opened up and you haven’t looked at the safety nets or the life rafts that we’ve got, we might end up actually trying to push more people on the life rafts and capsizing them,” AMA Vice President Chris Moy told the ABC.

In July, Australia unveiled a four-stage reopening plan targeting vaccination levels of 70 to 80 per cent, and urged states to focus on limiting the number of deaths and hospitalisations from the existing COVID-zero strategy.

Queensland and Western Australia, which are both largely virus-free, have said they may not stick to the plan since the agreement was signed when New South Wales had much fewer cases. The number of new infections are hovering around all-time highs, with the state recording more than 1000 cases each of the last five days.

The current outbreak also forced Victoria to join New South Wales in abandoning a COVID-zero target, with both states citing vaccinations as the pathway to freedom after weeks-long lockdowns had little impact. New cases in Victoria jumped to 176 on Thursday from 120 a day earlier.

So far, Australia has recorded just over 55,000 cases of the virus and 1012 deaths, but a slow vaccination rollout has left much of the country vulnerable to a resurgence in infection.

Just 36 per cent of people over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, well below the majority of comparable countries.

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