Australia

Australia strengthens safeguards against mutant UK strain

A coronavirus vaccine is crucial in stopping people from getting sick from new mutant coronavirus strains being detected in hotel quarantine, an expert says. Australia’s chief nursing and midwifery officer, Professor Alison McMillan, says variants from South Africa and the UK were reported to be between 40-70 per cent more transmissible.However, they were not infecting…

A coronavirus vaccine is crucial in stopping people from getting sick from new mutant coronavirus strains being detected in hotel quarantine, an expert says.

Australia’s chief nursing and midwifery officer, Professor Alison McMillan, says variants from South Africa and the UK were reported to be between 40-70 per cent more transmissible.

However, they were not infecting people with any worse causing disease.

“There is no evidence to this point in time that the vaccine will not work,” Prof McMillan said.

As the variants wreak havoc across the world, additional safeguards are being implemented in Australia to ensure that people in hotel quarantine who test positive remain in isolation for 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

The changes come as Australia recorded 12 new cases in the past 24 hours. One was a locally acquired case in NSW, and 11 were in hotel quarantine across Australia.

Prof McMillan was also asked if Victorian health officials did the right thing by allowing a passenger, who tested positive for the highly infectious UK strain of coronavirus, to leave quarantine and travel to Brisbane.

The woman arrived into Victoria on December 26 after flying in from the UK and was tested in hotel quarantine where she was found to be positive.

She was then isolated and did 10 days of quarantine before she was cleared of her symptoms and allowed to leave Victoria and return home to Queensland on January 5.

“That was the recommendations of the Communicable Disease Network Australia,” Prof McMillan said.

She encouraged Australians nationwide to wear a mask, where they can’t maintain social distancing, and continue good hand hygiene.

“There really is no harm in wearing a mask where you can’t maintain 1.5m,” Prof McMillan said.

“If you can, why not wear a mask on public transport. It is just that extra protection if you feel you need it and particularly for vulnerable groups.”

Nationwide, 41 people are in hospital with COVID-19.

However, none are in intensive care.

Prof McMillan extended her thanks to almost 76,000 Australians that got tested over the past day.

Australia has now recorded 28,582 cases since the start of the pandemic.

At least 840,000 positive cases were recorded globally in the 24 hours to Saturday.

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