Australia detects omicron variant

Australia on Sunday said that it had detected two cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant, becoming the most recent country to confirm the presence of the new strain, which has caused various countries to reimpose travel restrictions.

According to health officials in New South Wales, the two cases came from passengers who arrived in Australia on Saturday from South Africa, where the variant was first detected.

Both individuals are currently asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and currently in isolation, according to the New South Wales Ministry of Health.

“The two passengers were amongst fourteen people from southern Africa who arrived on Qatar Airways QR908, Doha to Sydney, which arrived around 7pm, Saturday November 27,” the health agency said in a release.

“The remaining 12 passengers from southern Africa are undertaking 14 days of hotel quarantine in the Special Health Accommodation. Around 260 passengers and air crew on the flight are considered close contacts and have been directed to isolate.”

The development comes just one day after Australia announced new border security measures to protect against the omicron variant.

Anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Australia who has been to an African country where the omicron variant has been detected — South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique — within the past 14 days will not be permitted to enter Australia. All flights from these countries have also been barred by the Australian government for at least the next 14 days.

Tags Australia New South Wales Omicron variant

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