Traveler who arrived in Sydney from Africa and visited Victoria does NOT have Omicron variant

Victoria breathes a sigh of relief as a Covid-positive traveler who arrived in Sydney from Africa and visited the state has NO Omicron variant

  • New ‘Omicron’ Covid strain found in Africa, but little is known about the variant
  • Arrivals who have visited eight countries in Africa must be in hotel quarantine
  • Man with Covid who had been to one of the countries then traveled to Victoria
  • Monday night, health officials said the man does not have an Omicron variant



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A man who visited Victoria from NSW after visiting a country with the Omicron Covid-19 variant does not have the new virus strain.

“The case doesn’t have the Omicron variant. The Ministry of Health will provide new advice to relevant identified contacts in this matter,” the ministry said in a statement Monday evening.

The state registered another 1,007 new Covid-19 infections and three deaths on Monday.

Melbourne breathes a sigh of relief after a visitor with Covid who has traveled to Africa was approved for the Omicron variant (pictured: arrivals are now required to wear PPE)

Melbourne breathes a sigh of relief after a visitor with Covid who has traveled to Africa was approved for the Omicron variant (pictured: arrivals are now required to wear PPE)

In the daily release of chief health officer Brett Sutton, the department confirmed that they had interviewed a person from NSW who had been to one of the nine countries of concern and subsequently visited Victoria.

That person has since returned to NSW and tested positive for Covid-19.

The case was ‘infectious and asymptomatic’, as well as fully vaccinated, when they traveled to Victoria.

The health department is sending text messages or Service Victoria app alerts to anyone who may have come into contact with the case.

Lower risk individuals are instructed to undergo a test and isolate until they get a negative result.

“The Ministry of Health is taking a conservative approach in identifying this person’s close contacts,” the statement said.

‘Contact tracing is continuing and this is expected to lead to more contacts.’

More than 90 percent of Victorians are fully vaccinated against Covid (Photo: Melbourne in October)

More than 90 percent of Victorians are fully vaccinated against Covid (Photo: Melbourne in October)

More than 90 percent of Victorians are fully vaccinated against Covid (Photo: Melbourne in October)

It comes after quarantine changes were made over the weekend, requiring all international arrivals in Victoria to be isolated at home for 72 hours.

Newcomers who have recently been to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, the Seychelles or Zimbabwe now have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.

Important questions about Omicron’s transmissibility, whether it results in milder or more severe disease and the effectiveness of vaccines remain to be answered.

Meanwhile, the health department said 19 Covid infections have been linked to recent protests in Melbourne.

A travel bubble that would start between Australia and Japan and Korea has also been postponed to December 15.  (Photo: People wearing PPE arriving at Sydney International Airport in Sydney on Monday 29 November)

A travel bubble that would begin between Australia and Japan and Korea has also been postponed to December 15.  (Photo: People wearing PPE arriving at Sydney International Airport in Sydney on Monday 29 November)

A travel bubble that would begin between Australia and Japan and Korea has also been postponed to December 15. (Photo: People wearing PPE arriving at Sydney International Airport in Sydney on Monday 29 November)

Of these cases, one person is currently in hospital, 16 are unvaccinated, two are partially vaccinated and one is fully vaccinated.

One case attended a social gathering leading to another outbreak with 10 confirmed Covid-19 cases so far.

Victoria now manages 11,501 active Covid-19 infections.

There are 300 Covid patients in state hospitals, 45 of them are actively infected with the virus in intensive care and 17 require ventilators.

Virus testers processed 48,397 results Sunday, while 1,813 people were vaccinated against Covid-19 at state-run hubs.

More than 90 percent of Victorians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

Mary-Louise McLaws, professor of epidemiology at the University of NSW, has called for all international arrivals to be subject to strict quarantine rules.  Pictured: A nurse prepares a Covid test in the pre-departure area at Sydney Airport on Nov. 28

Mary-Louise McLaws, professor of epidemiology at the University of NSW, has called for all international arrivals to be subject to strict quarantine rules.  Pictured: A nurse prepares a Covid test in the pre-departure area at Sydney Airport on Nov. 28

Mary-Louise McLaws, professor of epidemiology at the University of NSW, has called for all international arrivals to be subject to strict quarantine rules. Pictured: A nurse prepares a Covid test in the pre-departure area at Sydney Airport on Nov. 28

What do we know about the Omicron variant?

Scientists have said they are concerned about the B.1.1.529 variant, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization, because it has about 30 different mutations — double the amount present in the Delta variant.

The mutations contain features common to all other variants, as well as features that have not been seen before.

British scientists first became aware of the new species on Nov. 23 after samples were uploaded to a website tracking coronavirus variants from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana.

It was confirmed on Friday that cases had been identified in Israel and Belgium, but there are currently no known cases in the UK.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI), told Good Morning Britain on Friday that sequencing is being performed in the UK to determine if any cases have already been imported.

Work is also underway to see whether the new variant may cause a new infection in people who have already had coronavirus or a vaccine, or whether waning immunity is playing a role.

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford, has said the new variant will “almost certainly” make vaccines less effective, although they still offer protection.

Pfizer/BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine against Covid-19, is already studying the ability of the new variant to evade vaccines.

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