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Asia Minute: Australia will soon end its COVID isolation rules

A man wears a mask as he walks in Sydney, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/AP
A man wears a mask as he walks in Sydney, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A country with some of the strictest rules relating to COVID is making a few changes.

Right now, if you test positive for COVID in Australia, you’ll need to isolate for five days.

But that’s going to change a week from Friday — when the country will end mandatory isolations.

Australia is also ending most programs that provide financial assistance to people who have to miss work because of COVID infections.

The country’s Chief Medical Officer said Friday the time has come to make these adjustments because transmission rates are relatively low, and vaccination rates are comparatively high.

Paul Kelly said the decision “does not in any way suggest that the pandemic is finished,” but he described the current situation as “stable.”

The Australian Medical Association takes a different view — believing the decision to end isolation requirements is more about politics than medicine.

The president of the organization told reporters that those who pushed for the decision are “not scientifically literate and are putting the public at risk.”

He added that COVID cases are rising in some parts of the world, and that more Australians will be traveling internationally — making it a bad time to scrap isolation requirements.

Australians who come down with COVID are “strongly encouraged” to stay home, but there is no longer any legal requirement to do so.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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