Sydney braces for more Omicron cases but no lockdowns for now

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Sydney braces for more Omicron cases but no lockdowns for now

 

Australian authorities on Wednesday (Dec 1) flagged another probable case of the Omicron variant in Sydney as they braced for more infections after at least two international travellers visited several locations in the city while likely infectious.

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Officials in New South Wales, home to Sydney, said initial testing "strongly indicates" a man in his 40s, who arrived from southern Africa on Nov 25, had been infected with the Omicron variant and had spent time in the community.

"We believe it is likely it will be confirmed later this afternoon as a definite Omicron case," New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters, but he ruled out lockdowns to contain the newly identified variant.

"I feel like it's time for a change in approach. We don't know how many more variants of this virus are going to come," Hazzard said.

Sydney, Australia's largest city, came out of nearly four months of lockdown in early October to contain a Delta outbreak and has been gradually easing curbs after higher vaccinations.

Omicron has prompted Australia to delay by two weeks its plans to reopen its borders from Wednesday to skilled migrants and foreign students. Mandatory two-week quarantine has been enforced for citizens returning from southern African countries.

Vaccinated Australians reaching Sydney and Melbourne from all other countries must now quarantine for 72 hours. Other states have not opened their international borders yet.

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