Australia’s Northern Territory reveals plan to welcome back international students

Australia’s Northern Territory reveals plan to welcome back international students

CANBERRA: The Chief Minister of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) has revealed plans to fly international students and seasonal workers into the region, reported Xinhua news agency.

Michael Gunner confirmed on Monday that he was working to expand the NT’s hotspot policy, under which only travelers from areas with no community transmission of COVID-19 can enter the territory, to overseas locations.

If successful, the expanded scheme would pave the way for international students and seasonal workers to return to the NT and provide a major boost for its economy.

However, even if the hotspot scheme is expanded, all international arrivals must still serve a mandatory 14-day quarantine period – raising questions about the cost.

Earlier in September about 160 seasonal workers from Vanuatu – which has no confirmed COVID-19 cases  – arrived in the NT to fill a labour shortage for the mango harvest and went into quarantine – costing the mango industry AUD400,000 (US$283,251).

Gunner said that the government wanted to trial quarantining international students studying in the NT.

“We have a lot of international students here. Over the last four years, we grew international student numbers from just over 1,000 to 2,500. I don’t think we could get 2,500 in,” he said.

“We are working with the Australian Government around getting back into the next lot of term – how do we do that safely and make sure the economy keeps ticking, basically, but do it in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone?”

As of Monday afternoon, there had been 27,044 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours is five, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

All five new cases were reported in Victoria, the hardest-hit state in the country, where another three deaths were also reported, taking the national death toll to 875.