Doorstop, Canberra with Minister Butler on 11 July 2022

Read the transcript of the Doorstop, Canberra with Minister Butler on COVID variants; booster shots; mandates and emergency payments.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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General public

JOURNALIST:

You've described that we're sort of entering a new wave of COVID. Can you sort of describe that a little bit?

MARK BUTLER, MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE:

The health authorities around the country are really describing the impact of this new subvariant we're seeing now become the dominant variants - BA.4 and BA.5. The really troubling thing about this is that it appears to evade immunity that people generally get from having COVID before. So just because you had COVID earlier this year doesn't mean you're protected from these new subvariants. We're seeing substantial numbers of reinfection from people who had it earlier this year. Case numbers are going to continue to climb is the advice of all the Chief Health Officers. Hospitalisations, unfortunately, will continue to climb as well, which is why we're acting so quickly to expand eligibility for that fourth dose of the vaccine, which starts today that will boost your immunity and also expanding access to antiviral medicines, which are critically effective at preventing people from getting severely unwell.

JOURNALIST:

Are you considering any further sort of restrictions, including mask mandates or anything like that?

BUTLER: 

The Chief Health Officers met only late last week, and they issued a new statement on Friday. They didn't recommend a broad-based mask mandate. I think deep into the third year, we've moved beyond those community wide mandates, whether they're lockdowns or mask mandates. Instead, we're in a phase where we're going to be much more targeted. So, areas where we know there's high level, high possibility, of transmission, like public transport on aeroplanes, or where there's a very serious risk of severe disease like hospitals and aged care facilities. And I think that will continue to be the way going forward.

JOURNALIST:

And given that sort of rising caseload and rising hospitalisations. Do you think that the government support payments should be extended?

BUTLER:

Look, there's no easy time to wind payments like this up, emergency payments for which the government has to borrow money to be frank about it. The former government and the state governments that worked alongside the Morrison Government to develop this payment budgeted for it to end on the 30th of June. I know that's going to impact people and I deeply regret that, but it will impact people whenever an emergency payment is withdrawn.

JOURNALIST: 

Great. Thanks.

BUTLER: hanks everyone.

 

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