Australia Seeks Better Ways to Screen Biosecurity Risk at Border

(Bloomberg) -- Australia is assessing ways it can increase biosecurity surveillance at its border, including screening for threats to human health from infectious diseases such as Covid-19, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said.

“We are looking at what the border system will look like in six or 12 months’ time,” Dutton said Sunday in an interview with Sky News Australia. “There will be an additional overlay of biosecurity at our airports for years to come. That would be a natural response.”

Australia maintains rigorous border controls to protect its agriculture industry from pests inadvertently brought in by visitors or in imported goods. Dutton is signaling further scrutiny of arrivals to ensure they don’t pose health risks as well.

“We don’t know what will happen next flu season,” he said. “We don’t know whether there will be another pandemic in 12 months or 12 years’ time. We need to look at the technology we have got available and look at assessing that threat as the human threat crosses our borders.”

Dutton said the arrival of Covid-19 “has been a real wake-up call” and the nation needs to reassess that risk. Still, the volume of daily arrivals into Australia means there will be limitations on how successfully border authorities will be able to assess whether people are healthy or not even with emerging technology, he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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