Melbourne (Reuters)-Australian health officials said on Saturday that they are on high alert after the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa entered Australia.
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, was tightly locked for three days on Saturday because of the discovery of a virulent strain of COVID-1
Australia has been more successful in controlling the pandemic than most advanced economies, with a total of approximately 28,600 infections and 909 deaths, while the number of zero transmissions of COVID-19 recorded by each state at a certain time is zero.
But taking into account the new variants, the government on Friday reduced the number of travelers from overseas and required these boarding planes to undergo negative COVID-19 tests and required more tests at local quarantine facilities.
New South Wales Governor Gladys Berejiklian said at a press conference: “As long as people are traveling, the virus has infiltrated the community.
“Any measures we can take to reduce this risk are very important, especially now that we understand the role of these strains, all experts at the appropriate time suggest that these mutant strains will become the main strains.”
Australia closed its borders in March, but has always allowed a small number of Australians to return, quarantining them in a mandatory two-week hotel on arrival.
New South Wales, the largest state, reported a new community-transmitted case on Saturday, as the three-week lockdown period will end about 250,000 people in northern Sydney after the outbreak broke out in northern Sydney in December.
Queensland recorded a case of a variant linked to the UK last week and reported no new cases. However, officials said that if more cases arise, they will not rule out the possibility of extending the three-day lock-in period.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said: “This is because of this new virus. This is the first time the virus has appeared in a community anywhere in the country.”
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard