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Australia’s reopening plans in doubt after Omicron cases -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A crowd gathers in Kingsford Smith International Airport’s arrivals section. The morning following Australia’s ban on entry for citizens and non-residents, people are seen awaiting their flight.

SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Australia will reconsider its plans for reopening borders to students and skilled migrants from December 1, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Monday. This was after Australia reported the first Omicron coronavirus cases over the weekend.

Officials ordered quarantines of 14 days for residents returning from nine African nations and banning entry to those countries for anyone not a citizen.

Morrison advised people to be calm because data have not fully proved the Omicron strain’s severity, transmissibility, and resistance to vaccines.

Morrison stated that “it is too soon” to reintroduce the 2-week-old mandatory hotel quarantine for foreigners.

Omicron is a variant of concern that the World Health Organization has called “variant of concern”. It could be more infectious than other strains. Scientists are not sure if Omicron will inflict more severe COVID-19 than other strains.

Australia’s most populous cities are Sydney and Melbourne. After having closed their borders for over 18 months, they began to open the doors to fully vaccinated citizens from November 1 without any quarantine.

The cities tightened their borders and international travelers were required to stay in quarantine for at least 72 hours. Due to different vaccination rates, other states are not yet able to open their borders for foreign travelers.

Morrison announced that the nation security committee would meet Monday evening to evaluate the government’s border reopening relaxations due Wednesday. According to Morrison, Tuesday will see a meeting between all the leaders of states and territories.

Australia has managed to maintain its coronavirus levels far below other comparable countries through strict border control and snap lockdowns. Since the outbreak, it has recorded approximately 208,000 deaths and 1,994 cases.

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