Australia Covid live news update: Morrison says sorry for slow vaccine rollout; NSW records 124 new cases and Victoria 26

Scott Morrison says sorry for sluggish vaccination program; two people have died following a first AZ dose; NSW residents will learn lockdown fate ‘this time next week’. Follow all the latest news

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5.16am BST

Morrison also uses a question about the infectiousness of the Delta variant – and whether it might require Australians to shift their view of how to manage outbreaks because of this – to urge people to get an AstraZeneca jab ASAP:

The Delta strain is proving a much tougher combatant than the Alpha strain and other strains of COVID-19 and that is why right now, whether it is what they are doing in South Australia or in Victoria or what is being done in New South Wales, each of those jurisdictions – and I am in constant contact with all of them and will discuss them more tomorrow at National Cabinet – are looking to ways we can be most effective in combating the Delta strain.

Can I tell you, there is not a country in the world that has cracked it. Not a country… In the world… That has been able to be successful so far in such missing the Delta strain. So it is a big challenge for all of us around the world.

5.12am BST

Morrison adds a little more nuance to his previous comments regarding the advice of Atagi. These comments were strongly criticised by Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley earlier:

I completely respect the advice of Atagi. That is why we followed the advice of Atagi. It is any job as prime minister, not just to simply accept advice uncritically. Whether it is sitting in cabinet meetings or in other forums, of course I challenge the advice that I receive. I ask questions. I drill into it. You would expect me to do that.

I think Australians would not expect me to just take this advice simply on the face of it. We must interrogate it. Leaders should do that, ministers should do that. That always has been my approach, whether as a minister and as a prime minister, and there are plenty of officials who work in this town who know that very, very well, but I respect them all. I respect the job they do and I respect the way they engage with me on it.

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