Australia's plans to reopen its borders to skilled migrants and students will be reviewed beginning December 1, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, after the country's first detection of the Omicron coronavirus type. Two persons arriving in Sydney from southern Africa tested positive for the newly found variation on Sunday, as authorities imposed a 14-day quarantine on citizens returning from nine African nations.
Morrison said it was "a little premature" to reintroduce the two-week obligatory hotel isolation for foreign travelers, encouraging people to be calm until the severity, transmissibility, and vaccination resistance of the Omicron strain were completely assessed. "So we're simply going to take it one step at a time, get the greatest information possible, and make sound, rational judgments," Morrison told Nine News.
Omicron, which the World Health Organization has designated a "variant of concern," is possibly more infectious than prior versions. However, doctors are unsure if it will produce more or less severe COVID-19 infection than previous variants. Morrison said that the national security committee would meet later Monday to discuss the upcoming border reopening relaxations. By Tuesday, he claimed, a conference of the heads of all nations and territories will be conducted.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said that he has requested a review of the time period for Covid-19 booster doses from the country's immunisation advisory body. Around 87 percent of Australia's population over the age of 16 is completely vaccinated, a figure that exceeds that of the United States, the United Kingdom, and several nations in Western Europe.
Health authorities in New South Wales said that three persons who came from southern Africa on Sunday tested positive for Covid-19 and that genetic sequencing was being conducted to determine if they were infected with the Omicron strain. The new variation appeared after Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's main cities, began allowing vaccinated residents without quarantine admission from abroad on Nov. 1, after closing their borders for more than 18 months.
Both cities have strengthened travel restrictions, requiring all overseas visitors to report to quarantine for 72 hours. Other nations have not yet opened their borders to international visitors because to inconsistencies in vaccination rates. Since the epidemic started, Australia has documented around 209 000 coronavirus illnesses and 1 997 fatalities.
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