Australian states to ease quarantine rules

Sydney: The Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, the two major entry ports of the country, will further ease quarantine rules for international travellers despite a surge in new Covid-19 cases.

From December 21, fully vaccinated international travellers and flight crew arriving in Sydney and Melbourne will no longer need a 72-hour quarantine, reports Xinhua news agency.

Instead, they will be required to get a PCR test within 24 hours after arrival and isolate until they receive a negative result, according to an announcement from the two states.

They also need to present a negative pre-departure test within three days of boarding their flight.

All international travellers arriving from overseas into the two states aged 18 and over who are not fully vaccinated must still go directly into 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Saturday that the the announcement simplifies the process and makes sure Australia’s two biggest cities have a consistent approach.

“This decision has been made with safety remaining the top priority, which is why all arrivals must return a negative PCR test before they can exit isolation and have an additional test following that,” he said.

At the same time, NSW, the most populous state, is experiencing a continued sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.

On Saturday, NSW recorded 2,482 new cases and one death out of 137,149 tests, another record-high daily increase since the pandemic outbreak early last year.

A total of 206 people are in hospital and 26 in the ICU.

Victoria recorded 1,504 cases and seven deaths, while total of 384 people are in hospital and 84 in the ICU.