Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled that the federal government may scrap the plan to open international borders from 1 December.
Following the confirmation of two cases of heavily mutated Omicorn variant of COVID-19 virus in New South Wales, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia is considering delaying a change that would allow international students and migrants to Australia without travel exemption.
Speaking to the 7 News, Morrison said he had called an emergency meeting of the National Cabinet to discuss further.
He said, “This morning, I have advised the premiers and chief ministers that we will convene a meeting of the National Cabinet either today or tomorrow.”
Morrison will also meet with national security officials to discuss Omicorn, the coronavirus variant first found in South Africa.
He said, “We’re looking at the cases very carefully and we’re getting as much information as we can about the nature of this new variant.”
“At this stage I think it’s important that we need to proceed very cautiously, as we are, we’ve moved very quickly to put in place controls. I should stress, we have had many new variants, we have had many variants of concern.”
“This isn’t the first of the new strains we have seen, and the evidence to date does not suggest it is a more severe form of the virus and issues of transmissibility and impact on the vaccine, there is no evidence yet to suggest there are issues there. But should that information come forward, then obviously we will be considering that and moving very quickly, as we already have on the information that has been available to us today.”
“Let’s not forget that we’re not in the situation we were in in the first half of 2020, we now have 86.7 per cent of the population vaccinated. So, it’s important we just calmly and carefully consider this information, work together, take the decisions that are necessary, and that is exactly what everyone is doing.”
South Africa had reported the virus to WHO on Wednesday, and it has been categorized as a “variant of concern”.
The variant has spread worldwide, with new cases found in The Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.
Although, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible than other variants.
“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection,” WHO said.