DIGEST

The Informer: NT COVID outbreak a reminder of vaccine rollout's unequal rates

Many parts of the country are still lagging behind the COVID vaccine rollout. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Many parts of the country are still lagging behind the COVID vaccine rollout. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Northern Territory's COVID-19 outbreak recorded another nine cases on Sunday with fears the virus is expected to spread further.

The new cases were detected in the remote region of Binjari, a 15-minute drive from Katherine and about 320 kilometres south of Darwin.

One is now in hospital and all the cases are Indigenous territorians aged between 17 and 78.

While the territory's double-dose vaccination rate for those aged 16 and over sits at 73.4 per cent, the same can't be said for many of the more remote inland communities, most of which are Indigenous.

The latest data from mid-November showed 57 per cent of Indigenous people aged 15 or over in Darwin had been vaccinated while just 51 per cent of those in the outback had been double-jabbed.

It serves as a reminder that while some on the east coast are celebrating freedoms amid 90-plus per cent vaccination rates, many parts of the country remain well under the threshold target.

Vaccine hesitancy has been largely blamed for the lagging rates in Indigenous communities with leaders calling on the government to provide more outreach and health literacy programs in an effort to boost vaccination.

On Sunday, another 1275 infections were added as the state neared a 90 per cent vaccination rate, set to be reached on Sunday evening or early Monday.

Monday will mark another important occasion as politicians return to Canberra for the first day back of the year's last sitting week in Parliament House.

It could also mark the last sitting week before a federal election is called next year before the May deadline.

The next fortnight is expected to return discussion to some of the promises the Morrison government promised ahead of the previous federal election.

A bill on religious discrimination will be brought to Parliament three years after it was first promised by the Coalition.

There's still no word on whether the government's promised federal ICAC and Indigenous Voice to Parliament will get their day in the sun, though a government minister said extensive consultations were still ongoing.

A plan to introduce identification checks for voters during the federal election is also expected to be considered.

A parliamentary committee recently said the law could discriminate against homeless Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities, who might not be able to enrol without a physical address.

Indigenous leaders also remain concerned it could discourage Indigenous people from turning up on voting day.

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This story NT COVID outbreak a reminder of vaccine rollout's unequal rates first appeared on The Canberra Times.