Amidst growing threat of Covid-19 new variant Omicron looming large globally, Australia on Monday announced that it has extended the border reopening restrictions, and maintains its cautious call on international borders to skilled workers and students, citing concerns over the impact of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said reopening will not take place on December 1 as planned, calling the delay “a necessary and temporary decision.”
Tests are being carried out right now to see if travellers infected with COVID-19 who have landed in Sydney, Australia from southern Africa have the omicron variant.
The travellers were transferred to a facility known as Special Health Accommodation, where they would be quarantined for 14 days.
Fears of the Omicron Variant prompt Australia to reimpose COVID-19 border restrictions.
Omicron has been designated as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, which is investigating whether it is more contagious than other strains.
Australia has swiftly implemented strong border procedures. Non-citizens from nine southern African nations are prohibited from entering the country. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini (previously Swaziland), the Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique are the countries involved.
On their return to Australia, Australian citizens and their families who have spent time in those nations in the previous two weeks must be placed in isolation. Passengers travelling from all other countries would be compelled to isolate for 72 hours upon arrival in New South Wales and Victoria, which have experienced the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia this year.
Greg Hunt, the federal minister of health, has stated that caution is required.
While more is learned about the nature and impact of the omicron variation of concern, the Australian government will take further precautionary border security measures to protect Australians. In Australia, no incidences of the omicron variety have been reported.
Australia has recorded 206,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 2,000 deaths since the pandemic began. Currently 536 patients need hospital care, according to the Health Department.
So the advice is exactly what we’ve taken. Firstly, that we have stopped flights from the nine southern African nations.
Secondly, we have put in place a temporary ban on people coming from those nations if they’re not Australian citizens.
And thirdly, Australian citizens and permanent residents will have to go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
In terms of these two cases, we know from New South Wales Health, as you say late yesterday, that they’ve been detected early, they are the Omicron variant, and at this stage my understanding is that the patients are well with mild symptoms. But New South Wales Health will provide further updates on that.
More than 85% of the eligible Australian population is fully vaccinated.