Daniel Andrews to flag UK virus strain at national cabinet

Daniel Andrews has returned from leave ahead of a crucial national cabinet meeting where he says he will push for Australian jurisdictions to join Victoria in adopting certain hotel quarantine measures.

The Victorian Premier said he wants to push mandatory COVID-19 testing of flight crew, treating them as if they are “no different” to returned travellers, and pre-flight testing at Friday’s meeting.

He said it’s part of a bigger plan to keep the “hyper-infectious” UK strain of the coronavirus out of the wider community.

“I‘m back to make sure that those things that we have led on become part of our national coronavirus response,” he told reporters on Thursday morning.

“You’ve heard me say many times that so many Parliaments of the world are on fire when it comes to this virus and now with these new strains that are much more infectious than that which we’ve been dealing with … every person who gets it is giving it to four other people … there will be no pulling it up.

“That’s why the measures we’ve pushed are so important. It’d be my expectation they will be agreed to at national cabinet tomorrow.”

Mr Andrews warned there needed to be a “comprehensive strategy” to prevent the deadly new strains of coronavirus leaking out of hotel quarantine.

“You will never make this risk free, but there has to be a strategy that deals with the multiple risk points with multiple policy solutions,” he said.

“There needs to be something at every point to ensure, as best we can, that this super-infectious strain of this virus does not get into the Victorian community and, therefore, into the Australian community.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the virtual meeting would consider a set of proposals about international arrivals and quarantine from the expert medical panel.

Leaders will also discuss the need for a nationally consistent approach to public health orders about the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has previously accused the government of dragging its feet on calling the meeting, which was originally scheduled for February.

He told 2GB that national cabinet needed an overhaul because it lacked consistency and co-ordination.

Victoria recorded no new cases on Thursday despite the emergence of a mystery case on Wednesday.

The Premier said this case had been linked back to the northern beaches outbreak in greater Sydney, but health authorities were still working out its passage into Victoria.

Department of Health and Human Services testing commander Jeroen Weimar added another exposure site at Chadstone to the state’s virus hot spot list, warning anyone who visited Zara at the precinct from 6am-1.30pm on Boxing Day to get a COVID-19 test.

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