World Health organisation says new COVID-19 Omicron variant has now been reported in at least 77 countries.
In line with other countries including the United Kingdom, the border measures under the Biosecurity Act 2015 restricting travellers who have been in the 8 Southern African countries from entering Australia has now ended.
Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly says, “Given the global spread of Omicron, international border bans are no longer a proportionate or effective means to contain the spread of Omicron.”
At this stage there are no direct flights from Southern Africa to Australia and only Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, parents and eligible visa holders are able to enter Australia.
From today onwards Australia is also reopening to vaccinated travellers from Japan and Republic of Korea.
“We are also opening up to international skilled and student cohorts, humanitarian, working holiday makers and provisional family visa holders,”said Prof Kelly
All arrivals to Australia require a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test (nose and throat) within three days of travel and by law must complete Australian traveller declaration forms declaring their vaccination status and confirming that they are aware of state and territory public health requirements.
Prof Kelly claims, “Australia is well placed to deal with COVID-19 and its emerging challenges like the Omicron variant. Our high COVID-19 vaccination rates and boosters have put us in a very good place.”
“We are one of the first countries to roll out population-wide boosters. We are well prepared. Australia’s health system and processes built to manage this virus can be relied on to keep us safe.”
Australia has officially confirmed 109 cases of Omicron in few states. Globally, this number is more than 13,000. Early data indicates that Omicron is more transmissible, however research is underway to understand if this is due to the variant itself or other factors.