Singapore Airlines on Monday ferried the 1st 1,42,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Sydney.
Singapore Airlines’ flight
The 1st batch of COVID-19 vaccines originated in Belgium and arrived in Australia via Singapore. A Singapore Airlines’ A350 carried the vaccines.
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination programme
While everyone is eligible for a free vaccination in Australia, 1,42,000 won’t go far. By late March, two million doses should have landed and thereafter will arrive at a rate of one million doses a week.
Australian government expects 4 million of Australia’s 26 million residents to have received the vaccination by Easter under the multi billion dollar programme. By the end of 2021, mass immunisation is on the cards.
While the vaccination drive will be getting underway, there is no widespread belief Australia will relax its international border and travel restrictions anytime soon.
The current ban on Australian’s leaving the country expires on 17th March,2021. However, an announcement of an extension through to June is imminent. The Australian Government’s reluctance to unwind border restrictions is evidenced by their snap 72-hour freeze on quarantine free arrivals from New Zealand this week.
There’s also no move to relax the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals. Instead, the Australian Government is looking to expand the existing quarantine infrastructure. Besides considering a proposal to build a residential quarantine facility at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport, a similar idea is now floated for Melbourne’s Avalon Airport.
Still hard to get a flight home
On the other hand, it is getting harder to secure a seat on a flight to Australia. A year after the first COVID-19 outbreak, tens of thousands of Australian citizens and permanent residents remain stranded overseas. Even if you get a seat on any flight, there is no guarantee that the flight will operate.
Cathay Pacific has suspended flights to Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth this month while flights to Sydney will continue to run. This takes more seats out of the system.
With vaccines arriving yesterday and mass immunisation targeted by the end of 2021, there’s no immediate relief on the horizon for travellers wanting to head to, or already in Australia.
What do you think about Australia’s vaccination programme and the COVID-19 situation? Let us know in the comments section below.