Border closures still considered in Australian state amid Omicron concern

South Australian authorities have warned the state’s border could still be slammed shut to interstate travelers in response to the Omicron variant.

South Australia (SA) Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said on Monday he could not rule out hard border closures to keep the Omicron COVID-19 variant out of SA before Christmas on Dec. 25.

His comments came two days after the SA government on Saturday imposed new restrictions on travelers from the COVID-hit Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria requiring them to be tested on arrival in the state.

“We’ve been watching the emergence of the Omicron variant. There was a recommendation from SA Health that we shut our borders to New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT on the basis that we simply didn’t know enough about this variant,” Stevens told Adelaide’s FiveAA radio.

“We are watching very closely, we can’t rule out border closures, but if we do that, it will be on the basis of legitimate concerns that need to be responded to.”

The number of confirmed Omicron infections in Australia on Monday increased to 28 after NSW reported 10 new cases, sparking concerns of community transmission.

On Monday, Australia reported more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths as the country continues to battle the third wave of infections.

The majority of new cases were in Victoria, the country’s second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, where 1,073 cases were reported.

So far about 93 percent of Australians aged 16 and over have received one vaccine dose and 88 percent have had their second dose, according to the Department of Health.

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