A new study revealed on Thursday that a majority of Indigenous Australians are at elevated risk of severe illness from Covid-19 as the country continues to battle the third wave of the pandemic.
The study published by Australian National University (ANU) examined the prevalence of health factors such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, reports Xinhua news agency.
It found that about 59 per cent of Indigenous Australians have at least one underlying health condition that puts them at increased risk of intensive care admission, ventilation or death if they contract Covid-19 and are not vaccinated.
Katie Thurber, the lead author of the study, said the findings reinforced that Indigenous people "must remain a priority group" for the vaccine rollout.
"The root cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' elevated risk of severe COVID-19 illness is health inequity, stemming from colonisation and racism," she said in a statement.
"Our study makes it very clear, because of these long-term inequities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must continue to be treated as one of the highest priority groups in our pandemic response."
On Thursday morning, Australia reported more than 1,800 new locally-acquired Covid-19 cases, which increased the overall tally to 90,372, while the death toll stood at 1,186.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not one group, but rather comprise hundreds of groups that have their own distinct set of languages, histories and cultural traditions.
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, in partnership with the federal government, has been critical in driving the Covid response for the Indigenous Australians.
Based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics projections, the number of Indigenous Australians in 2021 was estimated to be 881,600.