One of Australia’s top infectious diseases experts has joined the growing chorus of calls for a timetable on Australia’s international borders as the Prime Minister continues to dig in his heels. Former federal health official Dr. Nick Coatsworth gave a frank assessment of life in a COVID-19 world in an interview with ABC News Radio’s Drive program on Tuesday, saying there will be a risk of Australians dying if we open borders.
The issue was a significant talking point for all sectors across the country after the federal budget predicted Australia’s international borders would remain closed mainly until mid-2022. It seems a growing topic of frustration for many Australians, as business groups openly push for more answers from the federal government, and experts and tourism operators warn that the country must move towards a COVID-19 world and think about
Opening up. Dr. Coatsworth said Australia “needs to begin a conversation” on borders, suggesting a “staged, cautious approach, rather than opening like an iron door, opening or closing”. On Tuesday afternoon, the infectious disease physician and former deputy chief medical officer told the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas that Australia “should be prepared to test our health care system, to really test our public health system” in 2022.
He was hesitant to open borders earlier than next year, though, “when we’ve got significant numbers vaccinated” and “we will have access to ICU beds”. There will be a risk of people dying from COVID-19 if it’s circulating in our community,” he warned.