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Australia reports another case of Omicron variant of coronavirus

Cases of new strain rise to 3, prime minister calls for meeting of National Security Committee to review current situation

Islam Uddin   | 29.11.2021
Australia reports another case of Omicron variant of coronavirus


Australia on Monday reported another case of the newly emerged Omicron coronavirus variant, bringing the number of confirmed cases to three, local media said.

The new case was confirmed in the Northern Territory (NT) state in a traveler who arrived in the Darwin city from Johannesburg, South Africa last week, Sky News Australia reported.

"I can confirm today that the genomic sequencing has shown that the man does have the Omicron variant of COVID-19," the broadcaster quoted NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles as saying in a news conference.

On Sunday, Australia reported its first two cases of the new variant from Sydney that pushed the government to ban arrivals from several African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique, for two weeks.

After the detection of the new variant cases in the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an urgent meeting of the National Security Committee to review the current situation.

"Let's not forget that we're not in the situation we were back in the first half of 2020. We have 86.7% of the population vaccinated," Morrison told local broadcaster Seven News.

"We have already had 13 other strains which have presented. This isn't the first of the new strains that we've seen, and the evidence to date does not suggest that it is a more severe form of the virus," he said, adding that there is still no evidence suggesting issues about its transmissibility or the impact on current vaccines.

The authorities advised all 260 passengers and crew who got off that plane to self-isolate, Morrison noted.

Australia is one of several countries that has closed its borders to those coming from over half a dozen southern African nations over fears of the new variant.

This week, South African scientists announced that they had detected the Omicron variant, which has several mutations that may carry the risk of reinfection. The new strain was first detected in neighboring Botswana on Nov. 11, and later in Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization On Friday declared it a "variant of concern," naming it Omicron.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid.

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