A more contagious COVID strain has made its way into Australia from the UK, so here’s everything you need to know about it.
As we learn more about the new emerging New South Wales COVID cluster, health authorities have warned two Australians who recently returned from the United Kingdom have a mutated strain of coronavirus.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the travellers are both currently in hotel quarantine in NSW.
“To date, we have had a couple of UK returned travellers with the particular strain you’re referring to,” Ms Chant said on Monday.
“Can I be very clear that the Avalon cluster strain does not have those mutations.”
The Avalon cluster’s strain has been traced to an overseas traveller, believed to be from the United States.
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Ms Chant promised every effort would be taken to ensure the mutant strain stays out of the community, but here’s everything you need to know about it just in case.
What you need to know about the mutant new COVID strain
UK health officials believe the mutations in the strain make it 70 per cent more contagious, however the severity of the strain remains the same.
While it’s important to note that mutations happen all the time, this is the first mutation where its effects have been so noticeable.
Many countries across Europe have even begun banning flights from the UL to prevent to mutated strain spreading further.
Scientists say the variant has approximately 17 key alterations, with the most notable being the change in “spike protein”. That allows the virus to embed changes to the body’s cells and make it more infectious.
Will vaccines still work against the new ‘mutant’ COVID strain?
Scientists are still unsure about this.
“It stands to reason that this mutation isn’t a threat, but you never know,” Dr Nelson Michael from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, told CNN. “We still have to be diligent and continue to look.”
The computer analysis will allow us to gauge how much concern we should have. Other teams around the world are doing this analysis, too.”
Will the mutated COVID strain affect Australia?
Well, the priority is to ensure the strain doesn’t leave hotel quarantine.
“The key point regardless is that we need to treat all people [in hotel quarantine] with that end-to-end process of making sure that they’re not coming in contact and there is not a risk of exposure to any residents in New South Wales,” Ms Chant emphasised.