AUSTRALIA has recorded its first cases of the Omicron Covid variant as it’s feared the Ashes tests with England are in doubt.
Tough border restrictions are in place and fears have been raised there’s a “50-50” chance at least one game won’t go ahead.
England batsman Rory Burns during a practice session in BrisbaneCredit: Getty
Countries around the world have been scrambling to close their borders and impose quarantine restrictions to deal with the new variant, which was first detected in southern Africa.
Authorities in Australia said two overseas travellers who arrived in Sydney from the region became the first in the country to test positive for the new variant.
The England squad is currently in Australia, preparing for the first Ashes test in Brisbane, which is due to start on December 8 in Brisbane.
Already, the Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews said the fifth and final test in Perth in January is in doubt due to the state’s tough border control measures.
“I’d probably say at the moment I’m 50-50,” Matthews told Australia’s ABC broadcaster.
“I’d gone as high as 97 per cent, but I’ve gone back to 50-50. We’ll wait and see.”
The Perth Test is due to start on January 14, which is just five days after the fourth Test in Sydney is scheduled to end.
Western Australia is due to open its borders in late January or early February once 90 per cent of the state’s population over the age of 12 are double jabbed.
The arrival of the new variant would appear to cast doubt on that.
It comes as Ashley Giles, the England director of cricket who is in Australia with the Ashes squad said there are going to be changes to the borders which will affect players.
“There are going to be changes to the border controls in terms of our families being able to travel,” he said.
“We hope that’s not going to affect us but we are in the hands of the national and local governments.
“We always knew things could change, I guess we had hoped things would change positively as we went through the series but as we’ve been aware over the last two years with variants things can also change negatively.”
The new strain reportedly has a high number of mutations in the virus’ spike protein.
The two passengers were among a group of 14 others who arrived in Australia from southern Africa on Saturday.
They were asymptomatic and were both vaccinated for COVID-19. The remaining 12 have been placed in quarantine.
Israel became the first country to close its doors to all travellers as the virulent Omicron virus pops up across the world.
The World Health Organisation first reported the new strain earlier this week after a case was reported in South Africa earlier this month.
The global health body described it as a “variant of concern” and said early evidence “suggests an increased risk of reinfection”.
In the UK Sajid Javid yesterday confirmed two cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been reported.
Two travellers from southern Africa arriving at Sydney tested positive for the new variantCredit: Getty
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