International

Aus unlikely to fully re-open borders

Aus unlikely to fully re-open borders
People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing clinic at Mona Vale Hospital in the wake of a new outbreak in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney. (Reuters file)
CANBERRA, JAN 18 (IANS) | Publish Date: 1/18/2021 12:08:00 PM IST

Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Australian Department of Health, revealed on Monday that it was unlikely that the country’s borders will fully re-open in 2021.

Murphy, who headed Australia’s initial response to Covid-19 as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) before becoming the Department Secretary, said that full-scale travel to and from Australia would likely not resume until 2022, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I think the answer is probably no,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday when asked if borders would “realistically” be reopened in 2021.

“I think we’ll go most of this year with substantial border restrictions. Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus and it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time,” he said.

Australia has so far reported a total of 28,708 confirmed coronavirus cases, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were six and 13 respectively, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

The country’s death toll stood at 909.

Australia’s borders were closed to non-citizens and non-residents from March 20, 2020.

Australians were banned from leaving the country for non-essential reasons from March 25, 2020.

Murphy said on Monday that the unpredictable nature of the pandemic made it impossible to predict when Australians would be allowed to travel overseas en masse. “I don’t want to predict more than two or three months ahead, the world is changing.

“At the moment we’ve got this light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccines, so we’re going to go as safely and as fast as we can to get the population vaccinated and then we’ll look at what happens,” he added.

 

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