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Int'l students return as Australia opens border to S'pore

 
Canberra, Nov 22 (IANS) The first contingent of international students has arrived in Australia under its travel bubble with Singapore.

Travellers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 who depart from Singapore can enter Australia without quarantining for the first time since March 2020, when the pandemic first broke out, reports Xinhua news agency.

Two flights of international students landed in Sydney and Melbourne on Sunday, the first batch of international students to arrive in Australia since November 2020, according to Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia.

The initial batch will be followed by another 500 students that will arrive in December.

"Universities have worked closely with government and health authorities for more than 18 months on plans to safely welcome back our international friends," Jackson said in a statement on Sunday, adding that around 130,000 international students remain outside Australia.

"We're confident that today's arrivals are just the first of many to return, at scale, for the start of first semester next year."

Australia's lucrative international education industry was crippled by the country's strict border closure in response to the pandemic.

Universities lost 4.9 per cent of their revenue, an estimated A$1.8 billion ($1.3 billion ) in 2020 and cut 17,000 jobs.

As of Monday morning, Australia has registered a total of 199,659 Covid-19 cases and 1,948 deaths.

So far, 91.5 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over have received one vaccine dose and 85.1 per cent were fully inoculated against the virus, according to the Department of Health.

--IANS
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