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The travel bubble with Singapore brings international students back to Australia

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MELBURN, Nov 21 (Reuters) – A group of international university students arrived in Australia from Singapore on Sunday after a nearly two-year pandemic absence as a travel bubble between the two countries went into effect.

Fully vaccinated travelers from Singapore are now allowed to enter Melbourne or Sydney without having to be quarantined – part of Australia’s gradual reopening of borders that began this month. Australia closed its international borders in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, which represents 39 universities, said flights from Singapore saw the first international students enter Australia since a small number returned in November last year.

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“We understand that these initial figures are small, but they are a clear signal of intent to allow many more students to return to our classrooms and communities soon,” Jackson said.

There are about 130,000 international students left outside Australia, she added.

Prior to the pandemic, international students accounted for 21% of Australia’s tertiary education students, compared with an average of 6% across all countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Australia’s closed borders have also intensified skills shortages across sectors, forcing firms to start offering entry bonuses for the first time in years. Read more

However, closed borders, along with rapid blockades, strict health measures and public adherence to rules, have made Australia one of the most successful countries in pandemic management.

Despite the Delta eruptions that led to months of blockade in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia had only about 760 confirmed cases and 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data from the World Health Organization, much lower than many other countries Developed.

On Sunday, there were 1,460 new infections across Australia, most of them in the state of Victoria, whose capital is Melbourne. Six other people have died. A group in the Northern Territories grew to 31 cases after nine infections were reported in some of the Territory’s remote communities.

As of Saturday, 85% of qualified Australians over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, health data showed.

149 new cases were reported in the community in neighboring New Zealand, which is also learning to live with the coronavirus through high-rate vaccination. About 83% of the qualified population of the Pacific nation has been fully vaccinated.

($ 1 = A $ 1.3824)

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Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by Michael Perry

Our standards: Principles of Trust by Thomson Reuters.

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2/ https://www.reuters.com/markets/asia/travel-bubble-with-singapore-brings-international-students-back-australia-2021-11-21/

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