Prime Minister Scott Morrison says NSW has done “the best job in the world” at dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW recorded its 33rd day without any locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Friday, and Mr Morrison said the state was also leading the country in its response.
“The health professionals and workers here in NSW have done, I think, the best job in the world,” Mr Morrison said.
“The work I have seen here is as impressive as anywhere you’ll find, I believe, around the world.
“I’ve never felt more proud to be Australian but I’m very proud of my home state too.”
NSW has been the scene of several COVID-19 clusters since the start of the pandemic.
However, the state has so far – with the exception of Sydney’s northern beaches – avoided widespread secondary lockdowns like those seen in greater Brisbane, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Mr Morrison said Sydney had “shone during the course of this pandemic” when compared to places like New York, London and Paris.
Mr Morrison said planning for the vaccine rollout, which will begin in Sydney on Monday, had been a mammoth task.
“We’re ready to go – that’s the clear message when it comes to rolling out this vaccine,” he said.
“We have been preparing, we have been planning, we have been dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.
“The best medical professionals in the world have signed off on these vaccines so you can be confident.”
Mr Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian toured the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’s inner west, which is one of three initial vaccination hubs in NSW.
Frontline quarantine staff and healthcare workers will start being vaccinated in NSW from Monday, with plans give about 35,000 people the jab over the next three weeks.
Ms Berejiklian stopped short of suggesting the vaccine would be mandatory for frontline workers but said it would be strongly encouraged.
“I have overwhelming confidence that sufficient numbers of people who work in our quarantine system … will be vaccinated,” she said.
“All the feedback that I’ve received from the workers that I come into contact with is that the vast majority are enthusiastic and feel it will give them an extra protection – not just for themselves, but also their families and loved ones.
“We know the greatest risk to NSW is through the hotel quarantine system and people working in the system know that.”
Ms Berejiklian said she would rather see incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated, rather than making the jab mandatory.
“We don’t like to make things mandatory in NSW,” she said.
“Rather than penalising people who haven’t taken the vaccine, I would like to see incentives for people who do take the vaccine because it is a good thing for our community.
“My strong message to everybody is to please, please take the vaccine.”
Mr Morrison echoed the Premier’s comments, saying uptake of the vaccine amongst high-risk workers would be “strongly encouraged”.
The federal government will begin its own initial rollout of the vaccine to aged care facilities across the country from Monday.