Australia backed up its planned border re-opening for skilled migrants and international students, humanitarian, working, and provisional family visa holders due to uncertainty about the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
On November 29, 2021, the Australian Federal Government decided to hold the border, resuming from December 1 to December 15. The resuming date for Japan and South Korea is also deferred until mid-December 2021.
The decision taken by multiple countries, including Australia, closed their borders to travelers from up to nine southern African countries where the Omincorn COVID-19 variant spread.
Australia’s borders are blocked to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, and Mozambique, except for Australian citizens and permanent residents. On Monday, Seychelles was removed from the no-fly list.
Australian nationals and permanent residents who have traveled through a hotspot country during the last 14 days will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine once they arrive in Australia.
“The temporary border closed will allow Australia to collect more information it helps to better understand the Omicron variant, including vaccine efficiency according to illness, including whether it may cause more severe symptoms or mild symptoms, and the level of transmission,” according to an Australian government statement.
“Except for those people who are fully vaccinated like Australian citizens, permanent residents, and direct family, as well as fully vaccinated green lane visitors from New Zealand and Singapore and restricted exemptions, Australia’s border are already closed to new visitors.”
Travel corridors from Singapore and New Zealand remain open. However, all arrivals in Sydney and Melbourne must self-isolate for three days after landing.
Regardless of citizenship status or where travel began, entry ports in other Australian states have long-standing quotas on arrival numbers and extended quarantine periods.
Five confirmed Omicron cases had been recorded in Australia at publication (four in New South Wales and one in the Northern Territory). Cases have been documented in several countries across North America, Asia, Europe, and southern Africa.
While the level of transmission, vaccine resistance, and sickness spectrum of Omicron remains unknown, nations worldwide are temporarily barring their borders to tourists from southern Africa.
Several countries are completely sealing their borders. Japan joined Israel in closing its borders to all non-citizens overnight, while Morocco has imposed a two-week embargo on all inbound planes.
In a statement, the World Health Organization noted, “Omicron has an extraordinary number of spike mutations, some of which are alarming for their possible impact on the pandemic’s course.”
“As the case rises, regardless of severity, may place undue strain on health-care systems and result in increased morbidity and mortality.”
There are no direct flights between Australia and any African country. Qatar Airways and Emirates, on the other hand, offered connecting flights through their Gulf hubs. Southern Africa is served by several European and American airlines.
Where the first two Omicron COVID -19 variant cases reported in New South Wales arrived through Qatar Airways.
Most airlines, including Qatar Airways and Emirates, have halted flights to and from their southern African destinations.
The Prime Minister of Australia will convene a National Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Omicron variant and Australia’s changing reaction.
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