Australia’s federal health minister said he was meeting the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the chief health officer, and state and territory counterparts to discuss developments around the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Greg Hunt did a swift u-turn on Saturday by shutting the country’s border with South Africa and reinstating mandatory quarantine for arrivals from nine southern African countries as concerns about Omicron mounted. States such as South Australia are already tightening up their borders again after only beginning to emerge from the Delta lockdown in place in much of the country since June and July.
New South Wales, however, is sticking with its reopening plan. State premier Dominic Perrottet said it was “inevitable” that more variants will emerge and enter Australia, and said the state was taking a “precautionary approach” with the changes to international arrivals announced yesterday.
“We need to learn to live alongside the virus and to live alongside the various strains of the virus that will come our way, and the best thing we can do is get vaccinated and get booster shots,” he said.
“Urgent” genomic sequencing is under way after two passengers on a Qatar Airways flight arrived in Sydney on Saturday night. Perrottet confirmed that 29 people arrived in Sydney yesterday, after spending time in southern Africa.