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Covid-19 coronavirus: Australia reports first case of South African virus variant

2 min read

An extremely contagious variant of Covid-19 that authorities have called “extremely concerning” has made its way to Australia.

The mutant strain of the virus which originated in South Africa and has been spreading around the UK was identified in a returned traveller who tested positive to COVID-19 in Queensland on December 22.

The woman’s positive test result was the subject of genome sequencing that identified as 501.V2, thought to be more contagious than other strains.

The patient was transferred to Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said.

The state recorded two cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, both of which were identified in hotel quarantine and acquired overseas.

Dr Young said it was “too risky” to allow interstate travellers exemptions to enter the state given the new strain had been discovered. It comes a day after a case of the virus strain stemming from Britain was recorded in South Australia in a medi hotel.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said: “This will be the first positive case of the South African variant in Australia. We have seen other jurisdictions record a UK variant. But this is the first time the South African one has opinion identified in Australia.”

She continued: “The good news about this individual – is that they were in hotel quarantine at the time they were tested and they have since been transferred to a hospital.”

Dr Young added that the virus variant means the risk has escalated.

“The risk unfortunately over the last few months has escalated. We are seeing more and more positive cases in the people who are returned from overseas and now that we have these two variants that are quite concerning, developing in the UK and that variant has already spread to other parts of the world, and the South African variant, it increases the risk even more.”

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