Exception to Australian Olympians may facilitate Australia’s opening

Sydney, Australia, Jun 22 (EFE).- The return of the Australian delegation to the country after the Tokyo Olympics could serve as a benchmark to relax restrictions on travel abroad in the country for those vaccinated against Covid-19, medical authorities said Tuesday.

Australia, which has kept its borders closed since March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, will send a delegation of a thousand people, including some 300 athletes, to Tokyo, of which about 98 percent are expected to be fully vaccinated.

David Hugues, medical director of the Australian Olympic Team, said it is the largest group of fully vaccinated people to return from “a medium risk environment,” adding that although there are no guarantees against the virus, they will try to keep everyone healthy till the end.

“I think this will provide an interesting opportunity for the Australian Government to look at infection rates (following the return of the delegation),” and will contribute to “shaping future policies” concerning travel abroad by vaccinated people, Hugues told journalists in Sydney.

Amid pressure to relax restrictions and repatriate more than 30,000 people stranded abroad, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison contemplated the possibility in April of travelers carrying out their mandatory quarantine at home instead of designated centers.

Australia, a country where about half of its 25 million people was either born abroad or has an immigrant parent, has been living normally for months, with only sporadic outbreaks such as the current one in Sydney.

Australia has planned in its budget that the reopening of its borders would take place in mid-2022, about six months after the end of its vaccination program, which has been delayed by problems in distribution or secondary effects, among other motives.

The country, where a large part of the population supports the closure of borders, has registered more than 30,350 Covid-19 infections, including 910 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic. It has vaccinated more than 5.7 million inhabitants, of which nearly 850,000 have received both doses from Pfizer or AstraZeneca. EFE


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