COVID-19: General Australian border re-opening delayed until 15 December
Australian Borders were to open to an estimated 200,000 overseas workers and students from Wednesday 1 December, but that has now been delayed by 2 weeks to 15 December due to caution over the new Omicron strain of COVID-19.
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New strain more infective?
No one yet knows if the new Omicron strain is worse than the current Delta strain. It looks like it is more infectious, but milder in symptoms and effects on health. Truth is, it’s all too early to tell. Scientists need to get hold of the variant and then conduct experiments on its infectivity, virulence and how it differs in symptoms from the Delta virus. Although symptoms have been mild on the young populations of southern Africa, there just arent enough closely observed cases for doctors and scientists to give confirmed advice.
Caution, however devastating and disheartening, is probably the best approach until we know more about the new strain over the next few weeks.
Students and workers delayed
It was hoped that overseas students, workers and the fully vaccinated would be able to enter Australia from Wednesday, as part of the path to recovery, so the delay is very disappointing for the schools, Universities employers and tourism industries that have been affected.
There are just over 3 weeks till Christmas, so if more information is available, then maybe there will be good news for travellers into Australia in time for the holiday season.
Current restrictions could change
Currently, flights have been stopped from 9 southern African countries and recent arrivals into Australia need to isolate for 72 hours after landing. This could be extended by NSW, VIC and the ACT, in consultation with the Commonwealth Government. For those having been in one of the 9 countries affected in the last 14 days, expect to serve 14 days in quarantine.
If you want to see the border restrictions announced on Saturday – head over here, remembering that the Australian Border advice has been updated.
Changes to departures?
International departures could also be affected, with the possibility of new restrictions applying to your destination. Europe is closing its borders to southern African countries, and these may be extended as the new Omicron strains spread across the world. Check the rules at your destination before you leave, expect them to change during your flight, and be prepared for isolation or quarantine on arrival is my best advice.
Feels like we are back on the merry-go-round? Maybe, but remember that we have over 90% of Australians over 16 vaccinated, something that we didn’t have with the lockdowns earlier this year and in 2020.
I’m crossing my fingers and toes that this Omicron variant will turn out to result in less severe illness than the Delta strain, despite its increased infectivity. Let’s hope it doesn’t go the other way – more infective, and more severe.