Sumary of Australia’s border to remain open to South Africa despite emergence of new Covid variant:
- As the World Health Organization called an urgent meeting to discuss the new variant detected in South Africa, the health minister Greg Hunt said on Friday that officials were assessing the threat posed by the strain and would not yet introduce restrictions on arrivals from southern Africa.
- 1.1.529 variant, but Hunt said that international health authorities were still gathering information about it.
- “The world is learning and looking [at] the strain,” he said.
- Hunt said he had been briefed by both Kelly and the secretary of the department of health, Brendan Murphy, on Friday morning.
- It comes as Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said in a question-and-answer livestream on Friday that information about the strain was still emerging.
- Whether or not the strain is classified a variant of concern by the WHO, its emergence has drawn renewed attention to efforts to help increase global vaccination rates.
- South Africa’s vaccination rate is only at about 24% while in neighbouring Botswana, where the strain has also been detected, only one in five people have been vaccinated.
- Prof Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist from the University of Deakin, said the rest of the world needed to do more to increase global vaccination rates.