CANBERRA, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has extended the nation's international border ban until June.
Greg Hunt, the minister for health, announced on Tuesday afternoon that the human biosecurity emergency period, which was introduced in March 2020, has been extended until June 17 to "ensure the Australian government has the powers to take any necessary measures to continue to prevent and control COVID-19."
The extension means that Australia's borders could have been closed to international travellers except citizens and residents for about 450 days.
Australians have also been banned from leaving the country without an exemption during that period.
"The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone's health and safety," Hunt said in a statement.
Mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals to Australia is expected to remain in place for the rest of 2021.
About 40,000 Australians who have registered to return to the country remain stranded overseas due to strict passenger arrival caps and fewer airline services.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there had been 28,986 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were zero and seven respectively, according to the latest figures updated on Tuesday evening from the Department of Health.