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Australia Travel uncertain as SA tightens border

19:53  04 december  2021
19:53  04 december  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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The Christmas travel plans of thousands of Australians from the nation's two biggest states are in doubt, as South Australia tightened its border over concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Premier Steven Marshall says the Omicron variant may force SA to reverse its border opening. © Naomi Jellicoe/AAP PHOTOS Premier Steven Marshall says the Omicron variant may force SA to reverse its border opening.

Premier Steven Marshall hasn't ruled out locking out travellers from NSW, Victoria and the ACT, only days after they were welcomed back for the first time in months.

"It may become necessary. I hope it doesn't," he said in a press conference on Saturday, before SA reported five new cases amid its unfolding outbreak.

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"We would only do that if we wanted to make sure that we still enjoy a Christmas here in SA. This is a balancing act."

Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier on Saturday morning recommended to the state's COVID-19 directions committee that borders be shut.

But instead the committee agreed to require all arrivals from NSW, Victoria and the ACT to be tested upon arrival.

There have been 15 cases of Omicron so far detected in Australia: 13 in NSW, one in the Northern Territory and one in the ACT.


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NSW reported 325 new cases and one death on Saturday, while there were three local cases in Queensland and four in hotel quarantine, one of them a possible Omicron infection linked to a visitor from South Africa.

How states and territories are responding to Omicron variant

  How states and territories are responding to Omicron variant States and territories have announced new measures for international travellers entering Australia in response to the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant overseas. Urgent genomic testing is underway in New South Wales to determine whether two overseas arrivals who tested positive to COVID-19 after landing in Sydney are carrying the new Omicron variant.All flights to Australia from nine southern African countries - South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique - have been suspended for two weeks.

In Victoria, a further 1365 new infections and nine more deaths were added. The state is yet to find an Omicron infection despite managing more than 14,000 cases.

The ACT reported seven new local cases, one suspected to be Omicron.

Meanwhile, the approval of COVID-19 vaccines for five- to 11-year-olds is imminent, with a January rollout likely.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation should make a call on Pfizer paediatric doses before year's end.

It is understood the first shipment is due to arrive in Australia before Christmas.

"(The TGA) will provide that advice, ATAGI will then provide their response and we're hopeful that if we've got two green lights we would commence the children's paediatric doses in the first part of January," Mr Hunt said.

While January 10 is a possible starting date for the rollout, it could commence a week either side.

Mr Hunt said Moderna booster doses for the general population are also on the cards, with confirmation by Christmas or sooner.

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usr: 2
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