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Australia could see Covid surge from new variants even after 80% vaccination when border reopens

Modelling shows increased risk of outbreaks if a mutation similar to the transmissibility of Delta were to circulate with international arrivals

If the Australian international border is reopened while highly transmissible Covid-19 variants are circulating overseas or locally, large and disruptive outbreaks will still be possible after 80% of people aged 16 years are fully vaccinated, modelling published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday says.

It comes after the New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, announced on Friday that from 1 November, returning Australians and tourists would be able to travel to Sydney without needing to hotel quarantine. However, later on Friday the prime minister Scott Morrison said the international border would only open to vaccinated Australian citizens and their immediate families and not tourists, saying “we will not rush”.

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