NSW has introduced tougher penalties for travellers who breach Covid-19 quarantine in an effort to stop its growing number of Omicron cases.
The state has also dramatically hiked fines handed out for Covid breaches with penalties increasing five-fold for those who don't comply with testing and isolation orders.
The state recorded its fifth case of the new Covid variant on Tuesday and revealed the infectious woman aged in her 30s travelled through southern Africa before visiting shopping centres, supermarkets and fast food outlets in Sydney and the NSW Central Coast.
The woman arrived two days before federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Saturday that people arriving from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi are required to enter hotel quarantine for two weeks.
She is now in isolation at a home on the NSW Central Coast, health officials said.
As per the new restrictions, all international travellers entering NSW and Victoria will need to isolate for 72 hours and take a Covid-19 test.
A second test must be taken on day six after arriving in NSW, and between days five and seven in Victoria even after leaving quarantine.
In an effort to contain the spread of Omicron, the state’s Premier Dominic Perrottet said tougher penalties surrounding quarantine were necessary.
Covid-19 penalties jump five-fold
From Wednesday, anyone caught not complying with isolation, testing and quarantine requirements will be slapped with a $5,000 fine, a massive jump from the previous $1,000 fine.
Corporations now face a $10,000 penalty instead of $5,000.
"We are well prepared here in NSW, but it is important we take the necessary steps to protect the community and adopt measures that will allow us to learn to live with Covid,” Mr Perrottet said.
Following a national cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison encouraged states to stick to their reopening plans despite the emergence of Omicron.
While little is yet known about the new Covid-19 strain, early evidence suggests it is more transmissible compared to other variants like Delta.
This week, the World Health Organisation deemed Omicron’s threat level as “very high” but warned countries against slamming their borders shut.
There is no evidence at this stage that vaccines and treatments are less effective against Omicron or that it causes more severe disease
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says those eligible for booster shots should now be booking in appointments to get the jab, calling boosters "our best defence against what can be a deadly virus".
He says the government is "taking this new variant very seriously" and people should think twice before skipping isolation requirements because police and health officials "will be on the front foot to ensure compliance".
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