The new mutant strain was first reported in the UK and has authorities worried about its higher contagiousness. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more deadly, however.
The patient, a woman, touched down in Queensland last week and went straight into hotel quarantine. She has since been transported by ambulance to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
“Genome sequencing has come back to show that she has this new variant that has been picked up in South Africa that is thought to be more contagious,” the state’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young told reporters.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
“We are absolutely confident that all proper measures were taken at the hotel and in the transfer, and of course at the hospital in relation to this positive case,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
Australian authorities confirmed two cases of the British variant from Australians returning from the UK earlier this month, though the current Avalon cluster does not contain this mutation.
At least 24 countries around the world have recorded cases of this new strain, causing concern because, although it is not necessarily more deadly, it is said to spread faster than the original COVID-19.
As COVID vaccines begin to roll out, the question remains as to whether the current immunisations will offer protection against them. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are confident they will be.
“So far, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can’t be sure, so we’re going to test that,” AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told The Hill recently.