• Rikki Lambert

Australia considers adding other countries with India in returning flight 'red list'


Australia's leaders will consider classifying more coronavirus-stricken countries as high risk after pausing all flights from India until at least next month.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison will chair Friday's national cabinet meeting of state premiers and territory chief ministers.


Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and foreign affairs officials have been putting together a list of high-risk countries for consideration.


India set another gut-wrenching world record on Thursday with more than 379,000 new cases and 3645 deaths.


Flights from there have been paused until at least May 15, leaving thousands of Australians who want to escape the disease disaster even more stranded than before.


While the Asian nation is so far the only country deemed high risk, Mr Morrison has flagged a British-style model of slapping travel bans on "red list" countries with significant outbreaks.


Under the UK system, only citizens can return from the designated nations with others blocked from travelling.


The national cabinet will also receive a regular update on Australia's caseload as infections in quarantine rise from Indian arrivals before the flight pause.


The vaccine rollout appears to be slowly gaining some momentum with more than 80,000 shots in the most recent 24-hour reporting period taking the overall tally past 2.1 million doses.


Australia's medicines regulator has suggested it is unlikely two deaths in NSW were linked to coronavirus vaccinations.


Therapeutic Goods Administration head John Skerritt said investigations were underway after two men, 55 and 71, reportedly died from blood clots.


It is believed both received the AstraZeneca jab, which is recommended for use only in people over 50 because of extremely rare but serious blood clots.


Adjunct Professor Skerritt said the men had various blood clots but declined to provide more detail on privacy grounds.


He strongly cautioned the media and public against reaching any conclusion about the deaths and potential links to vaccination, telling reporters in Canberra:

"The current evidence does not suggest a likely association."

All serious incidents are carefully scrutinised with the rate of blood clots linked to AstraZeneca still around five in every one million shots. Prof. Skerritt said:

"The benefits dramatically exceed the risks, so knowing there is a small background risk of clots is something not to hide.
"But all medicines, all treatments, all procedures, driving a car, flying in a plane, have some risk and in the case of these vaccines the benefits outweigh the risks."

-- with AAP