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 - Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Australia Outlines New Measures to Avoid Lockdowns Amid Spread of Omicron Variant

© REUTERS / AAP Image/Bianca De MarchiA member of the public is seen getting a test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Crossroads Hotel testing centre following a cluster of infections in Sydney, Australia, July 16, 2020
A member of the public is seen getting a test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Crossroads Hotel testing centre following a cluster of infections in Sydney, Australia, July 16, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday outlined the new measures to avoid new lockdowns while containing the spread of Omicron variant, including mask-wearing, pay raise to vaccination staff, relaunching additional vaccination hubs and setting the interval in the booster administration programme.

"What matters is people wear their [masks], not whether they get fined or not", ABC News quotes Morrison as saying. The prime minister also said that introducing mandatory mask-wearing was for each state and territory to decide.

The second measure concerned the booster vaccination and relaunching of state vaccination hubs, however, there was no decision yet on shortening the period between the second and the third vaccine dose, the broadcaster said.
Another measure will require interstate travel testing since the authorities want to identify the source of infection, demanding everybody a negative COVID-19 test to travel between the states in Australia, according to the broadcaster.

"The issue of the interval, and the issue of whether its three doses or two doses [to be considered fully vaccinated] are subordinate," the minister said as quoted by the ABC News. Morrison said that the government's expert immunisation panel would take any decision on cutting the interval, which had been set at five months. Also, the minister said that the payment to general practitioners and pharmacists who were in charge of administering boosters would be raised by $10 for each dose.

© REUTERS / LOREN ELLIOTTA medical worker carries RT-PCR swab tests at a pre-departure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney
A medical worker carries RT-PCR swab tests at a pre-departure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2021
A medical worker carries RT-PCR swab tests at a pre-departure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney
Morrison also confirmed that vaccination of children aged five to 11 years would roll out on 10 January and this would be a priority in fighting COVID-19.
Australia had already administered 41,667,960 vaccine doses with more than 80% of its population fully immunised.
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