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SUNDAY, September 25, 2022
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Australia reports surging COVID-19 cases, reopens borders after 23 months

Australia reports surging COVID-19 cases, reopens borders after 23 months

TUESDAY, February 22, 2022
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Australia's international border reopened to travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on Feb. 21, marking an end to restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of the virus in March 2020.

Australia reported more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday when the country welcomed its first international tourists in almost two years after reopening its border.

Australia's international border reopened to travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday, marking an end to restrictions that were introduced to prevent the spread of the virus in March 2020.

Fifty-six flights were due to land in Australia in the 24 hours after reopening.

Dan Tehan, the federal minister for trade, tourism and investment, was at the Sydney international airport on Monday morning to welcome the first arrivals and said it was a milestone for Australia.

"The first passengers had a huge smile on their face even though they have been on a plane for what, 20-odd hours," he told Nine Network television. "The warmth of the welcome that the Australian people give our overseas visitors hasn't gone away."

The return of double vaccinated international visitors will reinvigorate Australia's tourism sector, which supports 660,000 jobs and contributed 60.4 billion Australian dollars (about 43 billion U.S. dollars) to the economy in 2018-19, according to Tehan's media release on Monday.

An Air New Zealand flight arrives at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 21, 2022.  (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

David Marshall, chair of the Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum, said it would take up to 18 months for the tourism industry to recover from the pandemic.

"We're really playing catch-up," he told The Canberra Times.

The country on Monday reported more than 15,000 new coronavirus infections and 17 deaths -- seven in New South Wales, six in Queensland, three in Victoria and one in the Australian Capital Territory.

Monday marked one year since Australia administered its first coronavirus vaccines.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said that more than 53.2 million vaccinations have been administered in Australia.

An Air New Zealand flight arrives at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 21, 2022.  (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)