CANBERRA, May 18 — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared he will not risk lives by re-opening the country’s borders early, Xinhua news agency reported.

Morrison on Tuesday reiterated that it is not yet safe to allow quarantine-free travel to Australia amid increasing pressure to re-open the borders earlier than the mid-2022 date currently planned for.

“I’m not going to take risks with Australians’ lives,” he told reporters.

Jayne Hrdlicka, the chief executive of Australia’s airline Virgin, told a business function on Monday that the borders should be considered to be re-opened when the most vulnerable people are vaccinated against COVID-19.

She acknowledged that “some people may die” but it would be “way smaller than the flu.”

Morrison described the comments as “insensitive,” saying the pandemic was still raging overseas.

He confirmed that the government is working on a plan that will give vaccinated Australians greater freedoms during future coronavirus outbreaks.

As of Monday, there had been more than 3.18 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Australia.

At the current pace of roughly 447,000 doses a week, Australia could reach the 40 million doses needed to fully vaccinate Australia’s adult population in mid-December 2022, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.


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