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All overseas travellers to Australia's New South Wales, Victoria states must isolate for 3 days amid new COVID-19 variant concerns

All overseas travellers to Australia's New South Wales, Victoria states must isolate for 3 days amid new COVID-19 variant concerns

Composite of Sydney and Melbourne. (Photos: AFP/William West & Steven Saphore)

SINGAPORE: All vaccinated travellers arriving in Australia’s New South Wales and Victoria states from an overseas country must self-isolate for at least 72 hours.

Both states announced the new measure on Saturday (Nov 27) night amid concerns over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

“From 12am on Nov 28, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving in New South Wales who have been in any overseas country must travel directly to their place of residence or accommodation, get a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (nose and throat swab) test and self-isolate for at least 72 hours," the New South Wales' Ministry of Health said on its website.

Victoria's government said on its website that from 11.59pm on Saturday, all new vaccinated arrivals and unvaccinated children under 12 who arrive in Victoria from overseas must quarantine at home for at least 72 hours.

Earlier on Saturday, Australia imposed new restrictions on people who have been to nine southern African countries.

The countries are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.

The government has banned non-citizens who have been in those countries from entering and will require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian citizens and their dependents returning from these nine countries, said Health Minister Greg Hunt.

In November, Singapore extended the vaccinated travel lane scheme to Australia. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced that Australia would reopen its borders to all vaccinated Singaporeans from Nov 21.

Three flights are due to fly from Changi Airport to Melbourne on Sunday - Singapore Airlines SQ237, SQ217 and Scoot TR18.

There are four scheduled flights from Singapore to Sydney - Singapore Airlines SQ231, SQ211, Scoot TR12 and Qantas Airways QF82.

Responding to CNA's queries, a Singapore Airlines (SIA) spokesperson on Sunday afternoon said there were no changes to the airline's Melbourne and Sydney schedules.

SIA advised those who made bookings directly with the airline to contact the local SIA office for assistance. Other customers were advised to contact their travel agent or purchasing airline.

"We remain guided by the relevant authorities and medical experts and will work closely with them to make adjustments, where necessary, in order to ensure the health and safety of our customers," the spokesperson said.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said the new measures will keep people safe.

“Authorities around the world are still investigating the risk posed by this new variant,” he added.

“As a result, the New South Wales government will continue to put community safety first by taking these precautionary but important steps until more information becomes available.”

The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has raised concerns about another wave of the pandemic.

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the variant as being "of concern", a label only given to four variants to date. It was first discovered in South Africa and has since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

It could take weeks for scientists to fully understand the variant's mutations. Health authorities are seeking to determine if the Omicron variant is more transmissible or infectious than other variants and if vaccines are effective against it.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

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Source: CNA/ng/ic(mi)
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