omicron – New covid variant
Due to concerns over the new Covid variation, Omicron, Australia has put on hold preparations to reopen its borders to some foreign nationals. The country was set to open its doors to vaccinated skilled migrants and overseas students on December 1st. Following the discovery of Omicron, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated a fortnight’s wait was “essential.”
The significantly modified variety was discovered earlier this month in South Africa, and preliminary information suggests it has a higher chance of re-infection. It spurred the UK, EU, and US to impose a travel embargo on Southern African countries, which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticized.
As a result of the variation, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated poses a high risk globally, Japan declared on Monday that all foreigners will be barred from entering the country. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida did not specify how long the measures will be in effect, but he did tell reporters that he was prepared to be criticized for being overly cautious.
Mr Kishida explained, “These are temporary, unusual steps that we are implementing for safety’s sake until we have more information regarding the Omicron variant.” No cases have yet been discovered in Japan. Australia has not disclosed any changes to the limitations it has already reduced, despite the fact that five Omicron illnesses have been discovered among visitors.
Until recently, Australia had some of the world’s harshest border restrictions, prohibiting even its own citizens from leaving the nation in a policy dubbed “Fortress Australia.”
The strategy was commended for assisting in the management of Covid, but it also resulted in the controversial separation of families. The policy was only loosened in November of this year, allowing vaccinated citizens and their relatives to enjoy long-awaited freedoms.
Permanent residents and properly vaccinated visitors from New Zealand and Singapore are permitted to enter Australia under existing guidelines. The 1 December rule change would have added properly vaccinated Japanese and South Korean citizens, as well as qualified visa holders, to the list of people who might enter. However, Australia’s National Security Committee said the wait was required to assess concerns such as “vaccine efficacy” and the implications of the variation.
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