Plans by Australia to reopen its borders to some foreign travellers have been suspended for two weeks amid fears over the new Omicron Covid variant.
The country was due to allow vaccinated skilled migrants and international students entry from December 1.
But prime minister Scott Morrison said a delay of a fortnight was “necessary” following Omicron’s discovery.
He said: “The necessary and temporary decision to pause the next step to safely reopen Australia to international skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders from 1 December until 15 December.
“The reopening to travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea will also be paused until 15 December.”
He added: “The temporary pause will ensure Australia can gather the information we need to better understand the Omicron variant, including the efficacy of the vaccine, the range of illness, including if it may generate more mild symptoms, and the level of transmission.
“Australia’s border is already closed to travellers except fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family, as well as fully vaccinated green lane travellers from New Zealand and Singapore and limited exemptions.
“All arrivals to Australia also require a negative PCR test and to complete Australian traveller declaration forms detailing their vaccination status and confirming requirements to comply with state and territory public health requirements.”