ENTERING RECOVERY PHASE
Travel Bubbles still being considered; Cautious of Coronavirus Variants.
- On 23 January, three quarantined Melbourne residents associated with the Australian Open have been tested positive for the highly transmissible coronavirus variant linked to the United Kingdom.
- Otherwise, Australian state of Victoria records 19 consecutive days with no community cases (local transmissions) – a year after the state’s first reported case. This comes as the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 was provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration on 25 January, with first vaccinations expected to be in late February this year.
- Travel bubble: On 25 January, Australian Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt suspended the nation’s travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours, amidst concern of the single case of community transmission in New Zealand is of the South African variant. Hunt has also indicated that there is still no timeframe for a potential travel bubble with Pacific island nations after NSW Premier had called for the measure to be implemented in 2021.
- Trade War: Australia continues to advocate for its national interests and has escalated its trade dispute with China to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) previously in December 2020, following failed attempts to resolve the issue privately. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg expressed hope for the nation’s strained relations with China to improve, acknowledging that doing so would be mutually beneficial.