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Australia’s reopening plans in doubt after Omicron cases

Australia will review its plans to reopen borders to skilled migrants and students from Dec. 1, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, after the country reported its first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant over the weekend.

Two people who arrived in Australia from southern Africa tested positive on Sunday for the newly identified Omicron variant as officials ordered 14-day quarantines for citizens returning from nine African countries and banned entry from those nations for non-citizens.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

Morrison urged people to remain calm, saying data has not yet fully proven the severity, transmissibility and vaccine resistance of the Omicron strain.

“So we just take this one step at a time, get the best information, make calm, sensible decisions,” Morrison told Nine News on Monday, adding “it is a bit too early” to reinstate the two-week mandatory hotel quarantine rule for foreign travelers.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants. Experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities, had begun to allow fully vaccinated citizens entry without quarantine from Nov. 1 after shutting their borders for more than 18 months.

Both cities have tightened their border rules with all international travelers ordered to quarantine for 72 hours. Other states have not opened their borders to foreign travelers yet due to varying vaccination rates.

Morrison said the national security committee will meet later on Monday to assess the government's border reopening relaxations due from Wednesday. A meeting of leaders of all states and territories will be held by Tuesday, he said.

Strict border controls and snap lockdowns have helped Australia to keep its coronavirus numbers far lower than many comparable countries. It has so far recorded about 208,000 cases and 1,994 deaths since the pandemic began.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Read more:

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Australia’s reopening plans in doubt after Omicron cases

Australia will review its plans to reopen borders to skilled migrants and students from Dec. 1, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, after the country reported its first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant over the weekend.

Two people who arrived in Australia from southern Africa tested positive on Sunday for the newly identified Omicron variant as officials ordered 14-day quarantines for citizens returning from nine African countries and banned entry from those nations for non-citizens.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

Morrison urged people to remain calm, saying data has not yet fully proven the severity, transmissibility and vaccine resistance of the Omicron strain.

“So we just take this one step at a time, get the best information, make calm, sensible decisions,” Morrison told Nine News on Monday, adding “it is a bit too early” to reinstate the two-week mandatory hotel quarantine rule for foreign travelers.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants. Experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities, had begun to allow fully vaccinated citizens entry without quarantine from Nov. 1 after shutting their borders for more than 18 months.

Both cities have tightened their border rules with all international travelers ordered to quarantine for 72 hours. Other states have not opened their borders to foreign travelers yet due to varying vaccination rates.

Morrison said the national security committee will meet later on Monday to assess the government's border reopening relaxations due from Wednesday. A meeting of leaders of all states and territories will be held by Tuesday, he said.

Strict border controls and snap lockdowns have helped Australia to keep its coronavirus numbers far lower than many comparable countries. It has so far recorded about 208,000 cases and 1,994 deaths since the pandemic began.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Read more:

Dutch police arrest couple that fled COVID-19 quarantine

France detects eight possible Omicron cases: Health ministry

WHO says PCR tests detect Omicron, new COVID-19 variant has higher reinfection risk

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Health

World News in Brief: Noncommunicable diseases in emergencies, aid plan for Haiti, peace efforts in CAR

People caught up in humanitarian emergencies are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), UN agencies and partners warned on Tuesday.

Continue Reading

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General Assembly President calls for solidarity with Ukraine as ‘needless war’ enters a third year

UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis urged countries to stand with the people of Ukraine “in their quest for justice and peace” during a meeting on Friday to mark two years of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.

Continue Reading

Health

First Person: Supporting mental health in Madagascar, one consultation at a time

Ongoing humanitarian crises in southern Madagascar have worsened the situation for people with mental health disorders, but the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has been supporting patients by providing more psychiatric consultations.

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