Australia: New travel restrictions as COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney

Published on : Friday, December 18, 2020

After Australians had largely been able to travel freely within the country to boost the domestic tourism, a coronavirus outbreak in one part of Sydney has brought back some border restrictions and raised fears travel bans could return across the country for Christmas and the New Year celebrations.

A new outbreak of Covid-19 has been detected in the northern beaches area of Sydney.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the national reporters on Friday that 28 cases have emerged in the past week.

The state’s health chief Dr Kerry Chant said the source of the outbreak was a strain of virus brought in from overseas, most likely from the United States.

Ms Berejiklian told reporters Friday morning told that they are yet to work out how it got from the international source to the community, whether it was through quarantine or other sources. That’s really the challenge for our genomic experts at the moment. Long queues formed at testing stations as news of the outbreak spread.

The premier said she would not commit to new restrictions yet but warned the situation could change if the outbreak is not brought under control. Three of Australia’s other states announced anyone who had visited the Sydney exposure site to get tested and isolate for two weeks.

Additionally, Western Australia said any arrivals from New South Wales must be tested and undergo two weeks self-isolation and Tasmania banned anyone from Sydney’s northern beaches from entering the state. Australia has recorded minimal cases over the past six weeks after going through months of strict lockdowns, strenuous testing, quarantining all international arrivals, and closed state borders.

Australia has been able to restrict total Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began to about 28,070 cases as of Thursday.

By far the hardest hit state has been Victoria; its capital Melbourne last month emerged from a strict three-month lockdown after a cluster that originated from breaches in its hotel-quarantine system got out of control.

Associated Press, Bloomberg

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