Australia urgently tests arrivals amid Omicron concerns

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Australia imposed new restrictions on Saturday on people who have been to nine southern African countries, as the highly infectious Omicron variant raises concerns about another wave of the pandemic.

Britain, Germany and Italy detected Omicron cases on Saturday as more nations imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa.

"The pandemic is not over," New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said. "We need to learn to live alongside the virus and also learn to live alongside the various strains of the virus that will come our way. But the best thing that we can do is to get vaccinated and get booster shots."

The passengers arrived in Sydney, the state's capital, on Saturday evening and were transported to a hotel for 14 days of quarantine.

Other passengers on the flight may be considered close contacts and will need to get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days, and compliance checks will be undertaken, the state health department said in a statement.

"It is a fast moving issue but we will continue, as we always have, sensible, balanced, guided by the best possible medical evidence and medical expert advice," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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