In response to the outbreak of the newly identified coronavirus variant 'Omicron' which has spread in South Africa, Australia has announced the following actions:
- Any arrival who's been to South Africa in past 14 days must go into mandatory hotel quarantine
- Anyone in Australia who has been to Southern Africa in the past 14 days must home quarantine for 14 days immediately
- Flights from Southern Africa are suspended for the next 14 days.
There are no known cases of Omicron in Australia.
Health experts are describing the new variant as ‘the most concerning that they have seen’, prompting immediate travel bans in many countries including the UK, US and Greece.
In an announcement two hours ago, Australian Health Minsiter Greg Hunt has confirmed that all flights from the nine southern African countries have been suspended, adding that “the government will not hesitate to take further action if required.”
"What we’ve done is make sure that no person who has been in the nine southern African countries can enter Australia unless they’re Australian citizens, residents or dependents,” say Hunt, describing the actions taken as strong, swift, decisive, immediate, but precautionary.
“The other thing is, we can move at any time to strengthen or to reduce these requirements based on the medical evidence,” he says.
“If the medical evidence shows that further actions are required, we will not hesitate to take them. And that may involve strengthening or expanding the restrictions. It may involve reducing the restrictions and the temporary measures which we’ve put in place.”
Greg Hunt says Australia will take 5 additional protection measures because of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) November 27, 2021
Rules have also been tightened for all arrivals.
Travellers arriving into Australia have to now provide their 14-day travel history as an addition to the vaccination proof and negative test.
“We will be adding something which is currently not required, but it is collected and asked to be given, which is about 14-day travel history, and particularly where that involves places of concern currently in southern Africa,” says Hunt.