Nov 24, 2021
Biden Mandates Vax for Cross-Border Truckers, Exempts Border Crossers
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In January 2022, President Joe Biden’s administration will begin implementing a Chinese coronavirus vaccine mandate on all cross-border travelers, primarily truck drivers, at United States land ports of entry while exempting illegal border crossers.
As Breitbart News reported, Biden’s administration is planning to require the vaccine for all essential cross-border travelers entering U.S. land ports of entry. The mandate is mostly be targeted at truck drivers who cross between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
“President Joe Biden will require essential, nonresident travelers crossing U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, government and emergency response officials, to be fully vaccinated beginning on Jan. 22, the administration planned to announce,” the Associated Press reports.
Noticeably exempt from the vaccine mandate are border crossers and illegal aliens, hundreds of thousands of whom successfully get released into the U.S. interior as a result of Biden’s expansive Catch and Release program.
For months, Biden and White House officials have refused to endorse a vaccine mandate for border crossers even as millions of Americans are facing layoffs if they do not take the vaccine.
“They’re not intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked in September why Americans are required to get the vaccine while border crossers remain exempt.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made clear that they are simply offering the vaccine to border crossers who are apprehended but are not requiring the vaccine.
Democrats in Congress, like the Biden administration, have refused to endorse vaccine mandates for millions of foreign nationals. In September, House Democrats voted down a plan that would have imposed vaccine mandates on legal immigrants who wish to adjust their status to remain living in the U.S.
Top DHS officials expect more than two million border crossers to have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the year. Few to none, experts have said, are vaccinated.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter here.
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Australia stays CLOSED: International border reopening is delayed after the emergence of Omicron variant as cases of strain grows to five - but ALL are showing NO symptoms
Australia will stay closed for another two weeks as plans to allow in thousands of skilled workers, students, and refugees are pushed back due to the Omicron Covid variant.
The federal government's national security committee decided on Monday to postpone loosening border restrictions from Wednesday until December 15.
Travel bubbles with Japan and Korea that were also due to kick off this week were also delayed until that date.
'The temporary pause will ensure Australia can gather the information we need to better understand the Omicron variant,' Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Monday.
'[This includes] the efficacy of the vaccine, the range of illness, including if it may generate more mild symptoms, and the level of transmission.'
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australia's international borders will remain closed for another two weeks as health authorities work to 'better understand' the Omicron Covid variant
Australia's borders are already closed to most overseas travellers, but were due to reopen on Wednesday. Pictured: A family is reunited as an international traveller walks through at Melbourne Airport International arrivals hall on November 01
Australia's borders are already closed to international travellers except vaccinated Australians, permanent residents and immediate family, as well as 'green lane' travellers from New Zealand and Singapore.
A National Cabinet meeting will be held within the next 48 hours for state and federal leaders gather to discuss the potential health threat.
Australia's cases of the new super-mutant South African strain grew to five on Monday after two more travellers tested positive in NSW.
The two fully-vaccinated passengers arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Singapore Airlines flight SQ211 on Sunday night and are isolating in special health accommodation.
Everyone else on the flight was deemed a close contact and required to get tested and undergo 14 days isolation.
A travel bubble that was due to kick off between Australia to Japan and Korea has also been postponed until December 15. Pictured: People wearing PPE arriving at Sydney International Airport in Sydney, Monday, November 29
Health Minister Greg Hunt has warned the government will 'not hesistate' to reimpose restrictions if necessary to combat the new variant
The first two Omicron cases touched down in Sydney on Qatar Airways flight from Doha on Saturday, before genomic testing confirmed on Sunday they had the new variant.
Both were vaccinated and put into special health accommodation.
The third case, a man who arrived at Howards Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory on a repatriation flight from Johannesburg, tested positive for the new strain earlier today.Omicron variant
The World Health Organization declared Omicron a 'variant of concern' quicker than it did with other variants
Omicron highlights the need to boost vaccination in poorer parts of the world such as Africa
Experts say mask wearing, social distancing and better ventilation will help prevent all variants of Covid-19, including Omicron
All of five cases were asymptomatic and detected in hotel quarantine.
As authorities scrabble to determine the severity of the new strain, NSW, Victoria, and the ACT have temporarily re-imposed a 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals.
The federal government on Saturday also banned flights from nine countries of concern, including South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, and the Seychelles.
The list of countries was revised down to eight on Monday, with Seychelles removed upon advice from chief medical officer Paul Kelly.
International travellers already in Australia who have been in any of those countries over the past 14 days will also be forced into two weeks of hotel quarantine.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said 141 people came to the state from the original nine countries of concern over the past 24 hours, and all were sent to hotel quarantine for 14 days.
Although he ordered all international arrivals to quarantine at home for three days, Mr Perrottet insisted the NSW international and state borders would remain open.
'Ultimately we need to open up to the world [and] we need to do so safely,' he told reporters on Monday.
'We don't need to have a knee-jerk reaction, we need to have a proportionate and balanced response to the situation that's in front of us.'
'The responses should not be ''Let's shut down''.'
Travellers in personal protective equipment load luggage into a taxi outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport on Monday, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant amid the coronavirus disease
The latest infections bring the number of Omicron cases in Australia to five after two Sydney travellers and a man in the NT tested positive. Pictured: travellers undergo Covid tests at the pre-departure testing facility at Sydney airport on Monday
Mr Perrottet also stressed NSW was better equipped to confront new variants.
'We've got to learn to live alongside the variants of the virus that come our way,' he said.
'And the vaccination rate here is one of the highest in the world. That is not the case in the southern African nations.'
The premier said there were no plans to adjust the state's reopening roadmap, which includes restrictions easing for the unvaccinated on December 15.
However, restrictions would be altered in response to the variant if needed, he said.RELATED ARTICLES
- Super-mutant Covid strain Omicron hits Australia as two... Dominic Perrottet vows NSW WON'T go back into lockdown and...
NSW recorded 150 new locally-acquired Covid cases on Monday, and no new deaths for the fifth consecutive day.
Hospitals are treating 170 patients, five more than the previous day, including 25 people in intensive care. Ten require ventilation.
Some 92.4 per cent of NSW residents over 16 are now fully vaccinated, while 94.5 per cent have received one dose.
Of those aged 12 to 15, 81.3 per cent have received one jab and 76.5 per cent both.
The latest virus mutation, first detected in South Africa, has sparked concerns around the globe amid fears it is more transmissible than world's most contagious and dominant strain, Delta.
Early indications suggest the new Omicron variant may spread faster, but it is not as severe, with patients in South Africa only suffering mild illness.
This has led to speculation that it could replace Delta as the dominant strain and potentially provide those it infects with an immunity boost ahead of any more severe strains in the future.
During a press conference on Monday, Professor Kelly was asked: 'What's your view of the idea that a mild version of Covid that spreads rapidly could contribute to immunity, top-up people's ability to stave off maybe more severe versions of the virus?'
He replied: 'I think this morning in my media interviews I said that would be my number one Christmas present. And it would be, if that was how it ended up.'
Giving hope that Australians will be able to enjoy Christmas without the threat of further restrictions, he said: 'That would be certainly a very interesting change and a positive one.'
Greg Hunt has ordered Australia's vaccine experts to review the timeframe for booster shots in light of the Omicron variant. Pictured: Prime Minister Scott Morrison gets his booster shot in Sydney on November 19
However, Professor Kelly said more data was needed before scientists could definitely say the strain was less severe.
'But I just really say very clearly we're not in that position yet to make that statement, that that's definitely how it's gonna end up. But hope for the best and plan for other things,' he said.
The Omicron variant was identified in South Africa on November 11 and has since spread to countries around the world including Britain, the US, and Australia.
Amid fears it could make vaccines less effective, Australia shut its borders to nine nations in southern Africa on Saturday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered Australia's vaccine experts to review the timeframe for Covid-19 booster shots in light of the African Omicron variant.
Boosters are handed out six months after the second dose but the gap could be shortened to maximise protection against the new mutant strain, which is believed to be at least as contagious as the Delta strain.
Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Health Minister Greg Hunt said: 'I have asked ATAGI to review the booster time frames in light of international evidence more generally with regards to immunity and also in light of the Omicron variant.
'And we will, as ever, allow them to act independently and continue to follow their advice. But we're prepared with supplies.'
Mr Hunt was asked if the timeframe would be reduced to four months after the second dose but said: 'I wouldn't speculate on any timeframes.'
He also said he has spoken to Pfizer and Moderna bosses about the companies' plans to create variant-specific booster shots which could be ready in 100 days, according to Pfizer.
The pharmaceutical giant said it would know in two weeks how well its existing jab works to fight Omicron.
Professor Paul Kelly has revealed it would be his 'Christmas present' for a more contagious but less severe Covid-19 variant to rip through Australia. Pictured: Revellers at Christmas last year in Sydney
The Prime Minister has insisted there is no reason for panic yet over the new strain, saying there was no evidence the current vaccines were not effective against Omicron as he prepared for an emergency national cabinet meeting expected on Tuesday.
'Of course it is concerning, and that is why we're getting all the information we possibly can,' Mr Morrison said.
'We are not in the situation we were in back in the first half of 2020. We have 86.7 per cent of the population vaccinated.
'We have already had 13 other strains which have presented. This isn't the first of the new strains we have seen, and the evidence to date does not suggest it is a more severe form of the virus.
'On issues of transmissibility and impact on vaccine, there is no evidence yet to suggest there are issues there.'
Meanwhile, Victorian health authorities are also investigating whether a potential NSW Omicron case could have infected anyone there while on a trip to Victoria.
Government sources said the Victorian Government was considering extending quarantine and reintroducing mask mandates in some settings.
Passengers wear face masks as they arrive at the departures terminal at Sydney Domestic Airport in Sydney
NSW Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres announced on Sunday the state government was prepared to clamp down on travellers arriving from overseas.
'We will take the necessary measures, including restarting quarantine if required, to protect our community and our economy,' he said.
A government source said work was underway to restore hotel quarantine if required, but the preferred option will be home isolation unless the strain was deemed extremely severe.
WA Premier Mark McGowan on Saturday evening shut his state's borders to South Australia in a draconian effort to lock out the mutant new strain, as it allows in visitors from NSW and Victoria.
The ruling means only vaccinated South Australians can enter WA, where they must immediately go into quarantine for 14 days.
Pictured: Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first alerted authorities to the presence of the COVID-19 omicron variant reported that it presents 'unusual but mild' symptoms
South Australia also tightened its border rules following the emergence of the Omicron variant.
All international travellers and people arriving in SA from high-risk locations in Australia will once again be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Queensland authorities said they were unable to guarantee the state's border would reopen once 80 per cent of the state's population was vaccinated as planned, in light of the emerging health threat.
Deputy premier Steven Miles said the state would be taking a cautious approach before implementing any new restrictions.
'As they always do, the health officials are monitoring issues around the world and if that should affect things here,' he said. 'Nothing has changed at this moment.'
After the latest Omicron cases were announced on Monday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk issued a statement about the unfolding health situation, vowing to 'continue doing everything we can to keep Queenslanders safe'.
'Tomorrow I'll attend National Cabinet for an update on the new variant Omicron,' she Tweeted.
'The 14-day hotel quarantine in place for international arrivals is a safeguard we have in place here in Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk said the first stage of the Wellcamp quarantine facility being built in the state is due to be ready by the end of the year.
Passengers undergo COVID-19 tests at the Histopath Diagnostic Specialists pre-departure area at Sydney International Airport on November 28, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
'I'll keep you updated when we know more. In the meantime, now is the time to get the vaccine,' she said.
Although early reports about the latest strain seem positive, the emergence of Omicron has sparked heated debate among experts over the likely outcomes of outbreaks and how leaders should react.The three things scientists must know about Omicron
1. How transmissible the new variant is compared to other Covid strains?
2. Will Omicron cause more severe illness than other than variants like Delta?
3. Is the super-mutant strain resistant to vaccines?
The doctor who first raised the alarm on Omicron - which has more than 30 mutations - said patients are presenting with 'unusual' symptoms.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, who runs a private practice in the South African capital of Pretoria, said she first noticed earlier this month that Covid patients' symptoms were different to those reported with previous strains.
The doctor, who has practiced for over 30 years and chairs the South African Medical Association, said none of the Omicron patients suffered a loss of taste of smell typically associated with Covid.
Instead they presented with unusual markers like intense fatigue and a rapid pulse.
'Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,' Dr Coetzee told The Telegraph.
She was compelled to inform South Africa's vaccine advisory board on November 18 when she treated a family of four, all of whom were suffering with intense fatigue after testing positive for Covid-19.
Despite reports symptoms are mild, experts are calling for Australian leaders to take no risks and reimpose quarantine requirements for all international arrivals.
University of NSW epidemiology professor Mary-Louise McLaws said 72-hour self-isolation in NSW and Victoria was not enough and advocated a return to 'Fortress Australia' immediately.
University of NSW epidemiology professor Mary-Louise McLaws has called for all international arrivals to be subjected to strict quarantine rules. Pictured: A nurse prepares a Covid test at the pre-departure area at Sydney airport on November 28
'Omicron still not fully understood. Is transmission faster, does it reduce vaccine efficacy, is it as hard to mitigate outbreaks [like] Delta?' she tweeted on Sunday.
'Until +90% vaccination coverage of total pop (not just +12yr) quarantine must be supervised for every traveller from every country. [With] testing on day-1, 4, 5.'
But Dr Paul Griffin, director of infectious diseases at Mater Health in Brisbane, was far less concerned and said it was still too early to judge the risks of Omicron.
'I don't think we're back to square one. A lot of us thought this is what this virus is going to keep doing, going to keep evolving and we are going to keep finding new variants,' he told ABC.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton, who conceded that it was 'impossible' to keep the strain off Australian shores but measures were already in place to reduce its spread.
Professor Sutton said he was 'very confident' vaccines would provide some level of 'cross protection' for the new variant, even if Omicron differs significantly in terms of 'how our immune system recognises it'.
'This is not back to the beginning,' he said.
'We are not back at square one by any means. The vaccination coverage that we've got - over 90 per cent of eligible Victorians being fully vaccinated already - is absolutely more than useful.
'It is absolutely critical in protecting them and will, I'm sure, provide protection against these variants as well. We just need to understand how much.'What do we know about the Omicron variant?
Scientists have said they are concerned about the B.1.1.529 variant, named by the World Health Organisation as Omicron, as it has around 30 different mutations - double the amount present in the Delta variant.
The mutations contain features seen in all of the other variants but also traits that have not been seen before.
UK scientists first became aware of the new strain on November 23 after samples were uploaded on to a coronavirus variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana.
On Friday, it was confirmed that cases had been identified in Israel and Belgium but currently there are no known cases in the UK.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Good Morning Britain on Friday that sequencing is being carried out around the UK to determine if any cases have already been imported.
Work is also under way to see whether the new variant may be causing new infection in people who have already had coronavirus or a vaccine, or whether waning immunity may be playing a role.
Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford, has said the new variant will 'almost certainly' make vaccines less effective, though they would still offer protection.
Pfizer/BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine against Covid-19, is already studying the new variant's ability to evade vaccines.