The Australian government has made some surprising comments about the troubling new variant of Covid-19.
The Australian government has made some startling comments on the troubling new strain of the coronavirus, offering some very different advice to Britain.
The UK health security agency has raised serious concerns about the new strain, known as B11529, which is believed to circulate in several South African provinces.
The agency believes the new variant has twice as many mutations as the Delta variant.
On Thursday, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the UK would slam its borders to six African nations and place them on its Red List of travel.
“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this variant,” said Javid.
“The first clues we have of this variant is that it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines we currently have may be less effective against it.”
But Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt expressed a very different perspective on the new variant when he spoke to the press on Friday.
Hunt said Australia will not change its border rules at this stage, insisting that the new variant is unlikely to decrease the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine.
“It is very unlikely to affect the efficacy of the vaccine,” he said.
“This is a very different situation than the appearance of the Delta and the high number of cases that we saw in India. We are highly vaccinated.
“There is no basis for change.”
The prime minister expressed similar sentiments to Mr Hunt, urging Australians not to panic over the new variant just yet.
“I am informed that it is under investigation and not a variant of concern,” Scott Morrison said Friday.
Currently, the only flights to Australia from South Africa are government repatriation flights through Howard Springs in the NT, which means that all arrivals must be quarantined.
The World Health Organization will meet today to discuss whether to declare B11529 as a major new variant.
If the variant is considered significantly dangerous, it will be given the Greek alphabetic name “Nu”.
Mr Hunt said Australia would be ready to act if ATAGI assessed that the level of risk posed by the new variant had changed.
“We are well prepared and can act quickly if there is (new) advice,” he said.
“The advice at this point is to engage with the international communities.
“We have twice vaccinated returning Australians and other relevant individuals subject to current border restrictions and there are no changes to these at this time.”
Originally posted as Scott Morrison says new variant ‘not cause for concern’ as UK closes borders