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Australia records first Omicron community case, authorities keep serious attitude so far

FILE PHOTO: Sydney city center in New South Wales surpasses COVID-19 vaccination target
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a downtown shopping mall, as New South Wales state surpasses 90% of its target for dual-dose coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination for its population aged 16 and over up, in Sydney, Australia, November 9, 2021. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

December 3, 2021

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Friday reported its first community transmission of the novel coronavirus variant Omicron, but authorities remained steadfast in their plan to reopen the economy in hopes it would prove fatal. proved to be milder than previous strains.

The new case, a student from Sydney, is the first confirmed case of Omicron infection in a person who has not traveled abroad, an indication that the variant is already in the community, New South state authorities said. Wales said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters, explaining why Australia’s most populous state hasn’t stepped back from the strict bans imposed in July due to the reopening phase. Delta variant.

“Worldwide, there is no clarity as to whether this particular variant is causing us anywhere near the problems that previous variants have caused us.”

Australia currently has nine confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, eight in NSW, where a third of the country’s 25 million people live. While some states have tightened border controls in the country, the federal government hopes to avoid a return to a no-start lockdown.

Even so, plans to allow foreign students and skilled migrants into the country have been shelved by two weeks, and Australians returning from southern Africa must complete two weeks of home quarantine. hotel.

When asked if the federal government would stop targeting people from southern Africa, as now the new variant is no longer limited to people who have been there, the Federal Health Minister “We will continue to review the medical advice, but we are following it because it has kept Australia safe,” said Greg Hunt. ”

Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly, the government’s top health adviser, said Australia would not recommend booster vaccinations, as other countries have done, because “there is no evidence” this would improve the likelihood of vaccination. protection against Omicron.

Australia’s positive response to COVID-19 has helped it avoid the high number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in many other countries, with around 212,000 cases and 2,000 deaths.

The country’s remote Northern Territory, home to most of the indigenous population, has recorded its first death of COVID-19, an indigenous woman in her 70s.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Sam Holmes and Stephen Coates)

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DUSTIN JONES

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