Scott Morrison says new variant is ‘not of concern’ as UK slams borders shut
The Australian government has made some surprising comments about the concerning new variant of the coronavirus, offering some very different advice to Britain.
The UK‘s health security agency has expressed serious concerns about the new strain, known as B11529, which is believed to be circulating in a number of South African provinces.
The agency believes the new variant has twice the amount of mutations as the Delta variant.
On Thursday, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the UK would slam its borders shut to six African nations and place them on its travel Red List.
“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this variant,” Mr Javid said.
“The early indications we have of this variant is that it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that 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.
Mr Hunt said Australia would not be changing its border rules at this stage, insisting the new variant was unlikely to decrease the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine.
“It‘s highly unlikely to affect the efficacies of the vaccine,” he said.
“This is a very different situation to the Delta emergence and the high case numbers we saw in India. We are very highly vaccinated.
“There is no basis for change.”
The Prime Minister expressed similar sentiments to Mr Hunt, urging Australians not to panic about the new variant yet.
“I am advised that is under investigation and not a variant of concern,” Scott Morrison said on Friday.
Currently, the only flights to Australia from South Africa are government repatriation flights that go through Howard Springs in the NT, meaning all arrivals need to quarantine.
The World Health Organisation will meet today to discuss whether to declare B11529 a major new variant.
If the variant is deemed significantly dangerous, it will be given the Greek alphabetical name “Nu”.
Mr Hunt said Australia would be ready to act if ATAGI was to assess that the level of risk posed by the new variant had changed.
“We’re well prepared and we are able to act quickly if there is (new) advice,” he said.
“The advice at the moment is to engage with the international communities.
“We have double vaccinated Australians returning and other relevant people subject to the current border restrictions and there is no change to those at this point in time.”
Originally published as Scott Morrison says new variant is ‘not of concern’ as UK slams borders shut
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