While the Australian government is planning to slightly increase caps on overseas arrivals, even travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine at their own expense.
The country’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly has attributed this decision to what he says is insufficient evidence around the vaccines’ ability to limit transmission of the virus. The country’s vaccine rollout is expected to begin by the end of the month, and at present, most non-citizens are prohibited from entering Australia, which is a blow to its tourism industry.
There are strict limits on how many Australian residents can return each day, and they must go through the mandatory period of quarantine. The caution is understandable because while the hotel quarantine system has proved very effective in curbing the spread of the virus, some isolated local cases have arisen from hotel quarantine leaks.
In these instances, hotel staff caught the virus, in some cases through airborne transmission, and took it into the community. This situation has caused snap lockdowns in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The rise of people arriving in with more virulent strains of the virus is also a concern, with Victoria state premier, Dan Andrews, saying that the hyper infectious strains that are emerging are proving very difficult to contain.
The country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said that the country will look into expanding capacity at an existing government-run Outback quarantine camp, which would reduce the risk of transmission into dense urban areas. Three remote locations that could be adapted have also been identified. However, it is also acknowledged that transporting travelers to these facilities could pose a risk. Testing arrivals more often and for longer is also under consideration.
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The post Vaccinated travelers will likely still have to quarantine in Australia
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