COVID-19 Omicron variant

The Omicron variant is a new variant of COVID-19. Find out how we're responding to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 in Australia.

About

The Omicron COVID-19 variant was first reported in South Africa on 24 November 2021. It is quickly spreading across the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Omicron to be a COVID-19 variant of concern based on preliminary evidence that it spreads quickly. 

Severity and transmissibility

The severity associated with Omicron is still unknown, but early reports indicate mild disease, at least in the younger population.

Experts around the world are monitoring it closely to see if it is more likely to lead to severe illness compared to earlier variants.

Omicron and COVID-19 vaccines

Australia is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world against COVID-19.

There is no evidence to date that the vaccines Australians have been given are any less effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalisation or death from Omicron.

We are working to find out how effective vaccines that are currently provisionally approved for use in Australia are at protecting people against the effects of this variant.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has updated their advice and reduced the time between primary courses and booster doses to 5 months.

Additional government measures

The National Cabinet statement of 30 November 2021 summarises Commonwealth, state and territory government actions to respond to the threat of the new variant.

The Australian Government announced border security measures to protect Australians from the Omicron variant.

We continuously review these border security measures, based on the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) is following international developments very closely and will continue to advise the Government on how to respond to the Omicron variant.

Last updated: 
23 December 2021

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