Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison [Photo/Agencies]

CANBERRA – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called a leaders’ meeting to discuss a mutant strain of COVID-19 found in Britain.

Morrison said on Wednesday evening that a special meeting of the National Cabinet, which consists of the PM and state and territory leaders, would be held on Friday.

The meeting will focus on a proposal from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to strengthen the COVID-19 safety of international travel in response to the strain, which experts have estimated is more infectious than other strains.

“The proposal is to further strengthen the COVID safety of end to end international travel processes,” Morrison said in a statement on social media.

“The meeting will also provide an opportunity to further update National Cabinet on the federal government’s vaccination program, where considerable progress is being made over the break.”

The National Cabinet, which was established in response to the pandemic, was not due to meet again until February.

However, state premiers and authorities called for an earlier meeting amid growing concerns over the strain of the virus.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been 28,536 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were five and 12 respectively, according to the latest figures updated on Wednesday evening from the Department of Health.

The department also said the number of locally acquired cases in the past seven days was 65.