Australia reopens to international students, skilled workers

Sydney, Australia, Dec 15 (EFE).- Australia on Wednesday began to allow fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students to enter the country after almost two years of border closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The partial reopening was scheduled for Dec. 1, but the discovery of the Omicron variant led the Australian authorities to delay the measure for two weeks.

“Omicron is in Australia and we’re going to live with this virus. We’re not going to let it drag us back to where we’ve been,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during an interview with radio station 4BC, the transcript of which was posted to his website.

“We’ve got one of the highest vaccination rates in the world (…) It’s one of the key weapons we’ve got against Omicron, but we’ve got to keep moving forward. We can’t, we can’t slip back.”

Australia, which has fully vaccinated nearly 90 percent of the population 16 years of age and over, began a gradual reopening in November after the strict closures declared in March 2020.

The relaxation of border measures seeks to mitigate the shortage of workers, especially in the mining and agricultural sectors.

Education is also an important driver for the country, where universities estimate losses in the billions of dollars caused mainly by the drop in international students.

Some 235,000 foreigners have visas to enter the country, of which 133,000 are international students, according to government figures.

Also on Wednesday, Australia began its travel bubbles with Japan and South Korea.

The country, with a population of 25 million, has accumulated 231,000 infections and some 2,072 deaths, very low figures compared to other countries of similar size. EFE


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