Australia confirms two cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant

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Australia has confirmed two people arriving from southern Africa over the weekend had tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant on Sunday.

The New South Wales health department said, both passengers had come to Sydney on Saturday evening and had tested positive for COVID-19 late that night.

Australia joins Britain, Germany and Italy in detecting Omicron cases over the weekend as more nations imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa.

“Both people were asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and in quarantine,” said NSW Health.

“Another 12 passengers from southern Africa were also in 14 days of hotel quarantine, while around 260 other passengers and aircrew have been directed to isolate.

“Close contacts will be contacted regularly, and compliance checks will be undertaken,” the health department said.

Australia imposed new restrictions on Saturday on people who have been to nine southern African countries, as the highly infectious variant raises concerns about another wave of the pandemic.

The countries are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.

New Zealand announced fresh measures from Sunday evening.

Australia early this month eased its international border restrictions for the first time during the pandemic, allowing fully vaccinated residents to return to the country without quarantine after higher vaccination levels.

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