Australian Covid travel curbs causing ‘extreme levels’ of distress

Australia’s international border closure imposed in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has caused “extreme levels” of distress among people separated from their friends and families, a survey revealed on Sunday.

Researchers from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Flinders University surveyed about 4,000 people on mental health linked to travel restrictions, reports Xinhua news agency.

It found that 84 per cent of respondents reported “high or very high levels of psychological distress” and 75 per cent had “poor mental wellbeing”.

International travel to and from Australia has been heavily restricted by the federal government since March 2020 to reduce the spread of the virus.

Participants in the survey identified being separated from partners and family as the most common source of grief.

“While psychological distress was extremely high across all groups, partners who were separated and international students experienced the highest distress,” authors Matthew Iasiello from the SAHMRI and Kathina Ali from Flinders wrote in the report, according to News Corp Australia on Sunday.

The study was released days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that international travel will resume in November when states and territories hit key vaccination targets.

On Sunday, Australia reported more than 1,900 new locally-acquired Covid-19 cases as the country continues to battle the third wave of the pandemic, which took the overall infection tally to 111,421.

The death toll currently stood at 1,334

According to the latest data by the Department of Health, 79.4 per cent of Australians aged 16 and older have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose and 56.5 per cent are fully inoculated.