The low rate of Indigenous vaccination in Western Australia shows why restrictions such as lockdowns must remain a future option, Premier Mark McGowan says.
Mark McGowan has refused to rule out closing borders and using targeted lockdowns even when 80 per cent of the WA population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
WA is already demanding arrivals from virus-plagued NSW provide a negative test and prove they had at least one vaccine dose under a policy that came into effect overnight.
It will be a future requirement for any states and territories recording an average of more than 50 daily community cases.
The federal government will dispatch Defence personnel and special medical teams to western NSW amid rising concern about infections in Indigenous communities.
Mr McGowan describes the rate of vaccination among Aboriginal people in WA as “relatively low”, particularly in remote communities.
“That’s why we agreed at national cabinet level that we’d be able to put restrictions in within states even if we got to 70 or 80 per cent [vaccinated],” he told reporters.
“For instance, we might have to lock down Aboriginal communities, we might have to lock down certain towns or communities.
“That was the national agreement. It’s a pity some people don’t remember or don’t read what was agreed.”
While there are currently no limits on gatherings or venue capacities, WA has retained strict restrictions on travel to remote communities throughout the pandemic.
All West Australians aged 16 and above are now eligible to receive a vaccine, with authorities eager to accelerate the rollout after a sluggish start.
More than 73,000 people have registered and booked appointments since eligibility was expanded on Monday to include those aged 16 to 29.
WA’s vaccination rate sits just below 25 per cent, with the number of people fully jabbed having tipped past the 500,000 mark.
The state is monitoring three active cases, all in hotel quarantine.
A crew member from the Darya Krishna ship remains in intensive care at Fiona Stanley Hospital but has been cleared of the virus.
The vessel is expected to depart Fremantle in coming days.