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New rules to see pre-flight COVID tests for all international arrivals


Matt Woodley


7/01/2021 4:03:57 PM

The additional safeguards are designed to help keep more contagious variants from the UK and South Africa out of Australia.

Two people arriving at Adelaide airport.
Travellers will be required to undergo a COVID test no more than 72 hours prior to departure.

Aside from being tested prior to departure, all international travellers will also need to wear masks for the duration of the flight, according the Herald Sun.
 
Travellers will be required to undergo a COVID test no more than 72 hours prior to departure, and those who return a positive result will not be permitted to fly.
 
Airlines will also be required to screen flight crews weekly, while UK arrivals will undergo rapid testing once they arrive, with those found to be carrying the new variant likely to face more than the typical 14-day quarantine period.
 
The proposals, reportedly set to be formally submitted after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) meets Thursday, will then go to Friday’s emergency National Cabinet meeting with the Federal Government expected to announce measures imminently.
 
The new COVID variants, said to be 50–70% more contagious, prompted calls earlier this week for tougher border processes and even a potential suspension of international flights.
 
Professor Adrian Esterman, Foundation Chair of Biostatistics at the University of South Australia and former World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist, previously told newsGP he is in favour of the latter approach, though he understands it is unlikely to happen.
 
‘From a purely public health perspective, we should immediately stop the return of Australians from overseas … but [I] assume that there are legal and political reasons why this is not an acceptable option,’ he said.
 
‘What we can certainly do and should do, is to mandate testing both pre-departure [PCR] and on arrival [rapid antigen] for all returning Australians, as well as any international flight crew.’
 
The AHPPC had been investigating the best ways to deal with the UK strain, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, while a spokesperson for Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly reportedly said the Government has been monitoring the situation in the UK closely.
 
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already identified more than 50 cases of the UK variant in the country, while the WHO has revealed it has now been found in 40 other countries and territories in five of the six WHO regions around the world.
 
Meanwhile, the South African variant – which is also more infectious and some scientists say may make some vaccines less effective – has been detected in six other countries and regions.
 
More than 40 countries have banned travel from the UK, including all but four EU member states.
 
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