Port Phillip prison guard who refused to get jab dies of Covid

By Sam McPhee for Daily Mail Australia

Scott Morrison has teed up a national cabinet meeting about the Omicron variant for Tuesday

Scott Morrison has teed up a national cabinet meeting about the Omicron variant for Tuesday

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for calm over the new Omicron variant as he reveals experts believe it may be ‘even less severe’ than Delta.

Mr Morrison called in to Kyle and Jackie O’s radio show on Monday morning to provide an update to the Australian public over the new Covid mutation, as he scrambles to convene an emergency national cabinet meeting.

‘There’s nothing to suggest it is more severe in terms of its impact. There’s nothing to suggest the vaccines don’t have an effect on it,’ he said.

‘The indications are that it may even be less severe.’

Mr Morrison says only people from New Zealand and Singapore are currently allowed into the country, other than immediate family of Australians, and said the country remained protected from the virus.

‘In Victoria they’ve got over a 1,000 cases a day but the health system is fine. If we just calm, make good decisions and respond quickly,’ he said.

‘Let’s not get spooked by this, Australia has done enormously well getting vaccinated. Australia is doing great, and we will continue doing great if we keep sensible and balanced.’

He told Today mutated variants are nothing new and the country was well equipped to handle any Omicron outbreak.

‘It’s not first one we’ve had. We’ve had 13 variants of concern. I think what is important we stay calm. Australia is 86.7% vaccinated,’ he told the program. 

‘Our hospital system is coping. Now, that’s the key thing here. It’s no longer about cases and how we’re managing COVID.

‘It’s about the severity of the illness the people have and how the public hospital system and the health system is managing. It’s managing very strongly.’

The PM confirmed he will meet with the state premiers in the next 36 hours as they map out a plan for the ongoing Omicron situation.

‘With this variant, we know it could be more transmissible. But we also know it’s proving to be less severe. So we just take this one step at a time,’ Mr Morrison said.

NSW Health confirmed on Sunday that two travellers who touched down in Sydney on Saturday night from South Africa were infected with the new strain and two more were being tested.

NSW, Victoria, and the ACT temporarily re-imposed a 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals.

South Australia and Western Australia tightened border restrictions as other premiers around the nation also start to consider harsher controls.

Scientists are in a race against time to answer three vital questions about the variant that doctors said caused ‘unusual’ symptoms, as Scott Morrison and Australia’s business leaders call for calm.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which gave the prime minister an emergency briefing on Sunday night, are scrambling to determine how transmissible Omicron is, whether it is more severe than other strains, and if it is vaccine resistant.

Australia slammed its international borders shut to nine African nations where the strain first appeared earlier this month.

Mr Morrison said on Sunday after his meeting: ‘We need to be very responsive to the further evidence that is becoming available and the expert medical advice.

‘The goal is to ensure that our public hospitals and health systems are able to cope with this virus so we can live with the virus.’

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