Due to concerns over the new Covid variant, Australia has put on hold plans 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 said a fortnight’s delay was “necessary.”
The significantly mutated variant 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 ban on Southern African countries, which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised.
As a result of the strain, 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 chastised for being overly cautious.
Mr Kishida explained, “These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety’s sake, until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant.” No cases have yet been discovered in Japan.
Australia has not announced any changes to the limitations it has already relaxed, 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 helping in controlling the spread 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 change in rules would have added fully vaccinated Japanese and South Korean citizens, as well as eligible visa holders, to the list of individuals who could enter.
However, Australia’s National Security Committee said the wait was required to assess concerns such as “the efficacy of the vaccine” and the implications of the variant.
– India’s new age travel digital media