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  27 Nov 2021, 09:03

Australia bans southern Africa flights over virus concerns

  SYDNEY, Nov 27, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Australia banned flights from nine
southern African countries on Saturday, tightening its borders to prevent the
entry of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant.

  Non-Australians who visited South Africa, Zimbabwe and several other
nations in the past fortnight will also be barred from Australia, Heath
Minister Greg Hunt said.

  Citizens and residents travelling from the listed countries will have to
quarantine for 14 days.

  "These are strong, swift, decisive and immediate actions," Hunt told media
in Canberra.

  The variant -- which has a large number of mutations -- was first detected
on November 9.

  Scientists are racing to understand how it behaves, but there are fears the
strain may be more transmissible or render existing vaccines less effective.

  The World Health Organisation listed Omicron as a variant of concern and
said it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in
transmissibility, severity or implications for Covid vaccines, tests and
treatments.

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