Hundreds of people have asked for self-isolation after fear of Omicron at nightclubs in Melbourne; Victoria registers 1,405 new cases


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With staff and hundreds of isolated customers, Peel Hotel owner Tom McFeely said the venue would likely be closed for the weekend.

“If your staff has to isolate themselves you can’t open, and that makes it extremely difficult, just when we thought we were getting back to normal,” he told 3AW radio.

Mr McFeely, who reopened the site two weeks ago, said the government guidelines on Omicron were “policy on the run” and looked like “water torture” for small businesses.

He said most of those ordered to isolate were confused by the instructions given by health officials, saying they differed from place to place and people were given different information about when close contacts would be released from quarantine.

“People get confused over time. They want to know where it came from and who that person was, and [they want to] get the correct timeline. There was not enough information given to us, ”he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed that customers who attended both sites before midnight last Friday should self-isolate until 11:59 p.m. Friday this week.

Those who visited nightclubs in the early hours of Saturday morning should be quarantined until 11:59 p.m. Saturday, she said.

The Omicron fear comes as authorities in New South Wales investigate more than 200 coronavirus cases linked to a nightclub supercast event in Newcastle.

All cases are likely to be sequenced like the new Omicron variant, as the state faces its biggest increase in COVID-19 in more than two months.

Victoria recorded 1,405 COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to more than 11,500.

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There were currently six confirmed cases of the new Omicron strain linked to international travel in the state. Genomic testing was underway to confirm the strain of coronavirus carried by nine other suspected Omicron cases, with the results likely to be made public by health officials within the next two days.

Of the positive cases, four were air passengers who traveled to Melbourne from Dubai on November 30, while one was a traveler who arrived in Victoria from the Netherlands and went into quarantine directly at the hotel. December 3.

The sixth case was a family contact with one of the travelers.

While the full impact of the Omicron strain remains largely unknown, an analysis conducted by the South African Medical Research Council and Discovery Health, the country’s largest private health insurer, found that the variant appeared to cause less severe illness than previous versions of COVID-19.

The results, which were released on Tuesday local time but had not yet been peer reviewed, also showed that the Pfizer vaccine offered less defense against infections due to the variant but still good protection against the. hospitalization.

A two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination appeared to offer only 33% protection against infection during the current Omicron wave in South Africa, but 70% protection against hospitalization.

Omicron has defeated Delta as the main strain in South Africa, accounting for over 90% of all new infections in the country. It also caused a ‘tidal wave’ of infections in the UK, which recorded the first death of a patient infected with the strain worldwide.

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There are 365 Victorians with the virus treated in hospital, including 84 in intensive care, of whom 46 are on ventilators. There are also 44 patients in intensive care who have been cleared of the virus.

More than 10,780 Victorians were vaccinated against COVID-19 at state-run clinics on Tuesday, bringing the total number of doses administered in public facilities to nearly 5 million, which means that about 92% of Victorians aged 12 and over are now fully immune to the virus.

Australia reopens to international students and temporary migrants

Australia has reopened its borders to international students, backpackers and temporary migrants for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

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The policy will allow around 150,000 study visa holders and another 200,000 temporary and skilled migrant visa holders who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to enter the country without the need for a travel exemption.

Companies are hoping international travelers will help cope with ongoing labor shortages, but arrivals are expected to be felt rather than pouring into Australia, with Qantas reporting no increase in tickets booked for the next few. days and Melbourne hostels with few bookings.

The Tasmanian border open to the Victorians

Tasmania opened its borders on Wednesday to Victorians, other Australians and international travelers, although there are still some rules in place for those visiting the state.

Melbourne, Geelong and surrounding counties have been designated ‘high risk areas’ by the government of Tasmania, which means that people visiting Tasmania from these areas must test negative for a COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure.

Tasmanian Prime Minister Peter Gutwein told a press conference on Tuesday that all visitors must also register for a travel pass to Tasmania.

Travelers must be fully vaccinated or seek government approval to enter the state, then self-quarantine upon arrival.

“While other states have opened their borders to 80%, we have made the very reasonable decision, in my opinion, to wait until we reach 90%,” Gutwein said on Tuesday.

“We will reopen as one of the most vaccinated places on the planet.”

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The Prime Minister of Tasmania said 89% of the state’s population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated on Tuesday and authorities are expected to hit the 90% mark on or around Friday.

Western Australia has also chosen to keep its borders closed until the state hits its 90% double vaccination target.

Premier Mark McGowan has been designated February 5 as the date for WA to reopen.

With Noel Towell and AP

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