The Latest: Australia prioritizes air service to 3 countries

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A man wearing a face mask walks past an outdoor photography exhibition of healthcare workers in Melbourne, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. The photo essay created by photographer Phoebe Powell is to acknowledge the people working in the Parkville Biomedical Precinct which is home to some of the world's leading medical researchers, clinicians and academics keeping Victoria state safe during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister said on Thursday his government was giving priority to reopening air services to Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had discussed reopening air routes with the leaders of all three countries.

He described Japan and South Korea as “two countries that have done particularly well” in dealing with the pandemic.

“There are a number of countries we’re looking at to see what we can do probably next year. We’re not going to rush into this,” Morrison said.

The three Asian countries “are my current priorities in how we would pursue that,” he added.

Australia will allow travelers from neighboring New Zealand to arrive without hotel quarantine from Friday. New Zealand has eradicated community transmission of COVID-19.

But New Zealand will continue to insist travelers from Australia quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

Australia reported only 12 new cases of community transmission of the virus on Thursday. Australia’s most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, reported six each.