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NSW and Victoria won’t pursue ‘Omicron zero’ strategy

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Victoria and NSW will not pursue an ‘Omicron zero’ strategy to eradicate the variant and will try to ensure travel rules continue to enable families to plan their Christmas get-togethers and holidays.

Meanwhile Christmas could come early for those planning a trip to Queensland, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday set to reveal when the state will open its borders.

As the Omicron variant creates nervousness about travel plans leading up to the festive season, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he had a text conversation with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Saturday.

Mr Andrews said both agreed to remain in step on cross-border travel, even as the Omicron variant was popping up in NSW.

South Australia has opted to keep its borders open, introducing some testing hurdles for people from Victoria, NSW and the ACT, but could shut down travel if Omicron cases rise.

Mr Andrews said his government would do “everything we can” to remain open for Christmas.

“I’ve never been one to criticise other states making what they believe to be the right choice, but we will not be pursuing an ‘Omicron zero’ strategy here, we don’t think that makes any sense. It may already be here,” said Mr Andrews.

It comes as NSW recorded two more Omicron infections on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 15, and further cases are expected to be confirmed.

The ACT also confirmed a second case of the Omicron variant, a close contact of the previous reported individual.

Queensland’s premier has not ruled out opening up the state earlier, with speculation the state will hit its 80 per cent double dose target within a week.

The state will scrap quarantine for vaccinated domestic arrivals when 80 per cent of eligible people are fully jabbed, initially expected to be December 17.

“We’ll have updated figures tomorrow (Monday) which will show when we’re expected to hit that 80 per cent so we’ll be very closely watching those numbers,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Sunday.

Quarantine will be scrapped for vaccinated international travellers once 90 per cent of eligible people in the state are double jabbed.

“We are looking at early to mid-January (to hit the 90 per cent target) but we will have a better idea tomorrow (Monday),” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Queensland recorded no new community cases on Sunday.

Meanwhile the head of a key medical regulator is quietly optimistic that Australia can deal with the growing spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“When a new variant comes we have to check everything,” the head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration John Skerritt told reporters on Sunday.

“But we’re quietly optimistic, but I think it is important to be cautious, and emphasise we’ll know a lot more in the next seven to 14 to 21 days.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also urged people not to panic.

“I think everyone should keep their heads and we should be calmly and safely reopening as we have been,” he told ABC’s Insiders program.

-with AAP



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