Australia on high alert after overseas travellers bring new COVID-19 strains


  • World
  • Saturday, 09 Jan 2021

FILE PHOTO: Commuters wearing protective face masks in accordance with new public health regulations for riding public transit depart a train station in the wake of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sydney, Australia, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's health officials said on Saturday they are on high alert after cases of highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus, discovered in Britain and South Africa, have made it into the country.

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, on Saturday went into a three-day strict lockdown after the discovery of a virulent strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, linked to Britain. A variant that emerged in South Africa was found in Sydney, Australia's largest city, in a hotel quarantine.

Australia has been more successful than most advanced economies in managing the pandemic, with total infections at around 28,600 and 909 deaths, while each state has at some point recorded zero COVID-19 transmissions.

But given the new variants, the government on Friday cut the number of travellers from overseas, and required negative COVID-19 tests from those boarding planes and more testing at local quarantine facilities.

"So long as people are travelling, the risk of the virus seeping into the community is already there," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a news conference.

"Anything we can do to reduce that risk is really important, especially now when we understand what these strains are doing, and all the experts advise in due course that these mutated strains will become the dominant strain."

Australia closed its borders in March but has been allowing a limited number of Australians to return, putting them into a two-week mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival.

New South Wales, the largest state, reported one new community transmitted case on Saturday, as a three-week lockdown is set to end for about a quarter million of people in Sydney's north after an outbreak there in December.

Queensland, where a case of the Britain-linked variant was recorded last week, reported no new cases. But officials said that they could not rule out extending the three-day lockdown if more cases emerge.

"This is because of this new variant and because it is the first time this new variant has been out in a community anywhere in the country," said Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Next In World

Yemen's Houthis say they attacked Aramco, Patriot targets in Jazan
Cancelling Olympics remains an option, says Japan ruling party official
Quotes: Officials react as Biden moves to pull troops from Afghanistan by September 11
U.S. set to slap new sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday: sources
E-commerce platform connects young Afghan female entrepreneurs with the world
Argentina closes schools, imposes curfew in Buenos Aires as COVID-19 cases spike
Brazil investigates reports of vaccines being exchanged for illegal gold
UK PM acted on plea from Saudi Crown Prince over axed Newcastle United deal - Daily Mail
Standing among U.S. graves, Biden explains Afghanistan decision in personal terms
U.S. lawmakers to 'review' UAE arms sale after Biden opts to go ahead

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers