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LIVE Last updated January 9, 2021 3:21PM AEDT It has been just two days since the first case of the mutant UK virus strain was detected in Australia and both state and federal governments have introduced a series of changes in a bid to stop a potentially devastating outbreak. The first case of the mutant…

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Last updated January 9, 2021 3:21PM AEDT

It has been just two days since the first case of the mutant UK virus strain was detected in Australia and both state and federal governments have introduced a series of changes in a bid to stop a potentially devastating outbreak.

The first case of the mutant strain was detected on Thursday in a woman in her 20s who works as a casual cleaner for a quarantine hotel in Brisbane. Another discovery of the strain was confirmed today in a woman who flew to Brisbane on a Jetstar flight after being released from hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

The UK mutant strain is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than other COVID-19 strains and has now spread to more than 30 other countries.

It comes as Greater Brisbane, including Logan, Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands, woke up to their first full day under new lockdown conditions, with restrictions expected to be in place until at least 6pm on Monday.

Meanwhile, a Woolworths, a Coles and major Westfield Shopping Centre are among the latest venues affected by Sydney’s outbreak.

Read on for all the latest updates.

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NSW authorities have released a statement about a woman who was carrying the UK strain, and who was released from hotel quarantine on 5 January after completing an isolation period was not infecious when returning to her community.

They said:

“An expert panel has determined that a returned traveller who was identified as having the new UK variant of COVID-19 after completing their isolation period was not infectious when they returned to the community.
A returned traveller arrived in NSW from overseas on 21 December and entered mandatory quarantine, where they tested positive for COVID-19 following their day two swab.
The person was transferred to the Special Health Accommodation, which cares for all returned travellers who test positive, and was discharged from the Special Health Accommodation at 12.10am on 5 January.
The person had been medically assessed the day before, met all exit criteria in place at the time, and on the basis of those criteria were considered clear of COVID-19. On the 7 January, genome sequencing found the person had been infected with the new UK variant of COVID-19.”

They were immediately contacted by NSW Health and asked to isolate.

“The person returned a positive test with a high CT value, which indicates low levels of infection, and returned to the Special Health Accommodation.
This person attended several venues in Burwood in Sydney’s Inner West on 6 and 7 January, which, as a precaution, were included in a public health alert released by NSW Health on Friday night. The person has one household contact who has tested negative to date.
Following further comprehensive testing, including serology, an expert panel has today determined that the person was not infectious when they left quarantine.
Anyone who attended the venues in Burwood on 6 and 7 January highlighted in NSW Health’s public health alert should now continue to monitor for symptoms and get tested if even the mildest of symptoms appear, in line with advice for everyone in NSW.
Under new rules determined by the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, and already implemented in NSW, all returned travellers with variants of concern should:

– not be released from isolation until at least 14 days after symptom onset
– have a test (PCR swab) at the end of their isolation period and be cleared by an expert panel prior to release should this test be positive”


Ally Foster

A woman who arrived in the Northern Territory from the UK has been diagnosed with the highly-infectious mutant strain of COVID-19.

The 26-year-old woman arrived in the NT from London on December 30 and tested positive to the virus on December 31.

According to NT News, this is the first time the UK strain has been detected in the Northern Territory.

The woman is currently undergoing quarantine at the NT Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs.

All passengers and crew on the same flight has the woman have been tested twice and will be retested today.

So far no other positive cases have been detected from the flight.


Ally Foster

COVID-19 virus fragments have been detected across multiple sewage treatment plants in and around Sydney.

Fragments have been discovered at facilities in Ulladulla in the Shoalhaven region, Warriewood in Sydney’s north, Northmead in western Sydney, Quakers Hill in north western Sydney and Camellia in the city’s west.

“NSW Health is aware of positive COVID-19 cases who live in the Warriewood, Northmead, Quakers Hill and Camellia catchments but is asking everyone in the area to be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms, and if they appear to isolate and get tested immediately,” NSW Health said.

There have been no recently acquired COVID-19 cases in the Ulladulla area, sparking concerns there may be undetected infections circulating within the community or an infected person may have visited the area.

“We are asking everyone in that area to be especially vigilant in monitoring for symptoms, and if they appear get tested and isolate immediately,” NSW Health said.
“The Ulladulla catchment takes sewage from Narrawallee, Milton, Mollymook Beach, Ulladulla, Kings Point, Burrill Lake, Dolphin Point, Lake Tabourie.”


Ally Foster

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley claims the woman who tested positive to the UK virus strain after flying to Queensland “wasn’t infectious” when she left hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

The Queensland government announced today a woman who had flown to Brisbane after being released from hotel quarantine from Melbourne had tested positive to the strain.

The woman arrived in Melbourne from the UK in late December and tested positive to the virus in hotel quarantine. After 10 days she showed no more symptoms and was released without being retested.

Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire

Mr Foley said all proper quarantine procedures were followed and claimed the woman wasn’t infectious when she got on the flight to Brisbane, despite Queensland authorities now tracking down those who came into contact with her.

“That flight, I don’t believe so because the person wasn’t infectious,” he said.

“She is now being re-tested out of an abundance of caution. As the chief officer of Queensland has pointed out now the person is up to day 15 and has shown no signs of infectivity we are cooperating with them to make sure they have all the data they need and the manifest from the Jetstar flight is provided and followed up.”


Ally Foster

South Australia has recorded three new COVID-19 cases, all from returned overseas travellers currently in a medi-hotel.

The cases include a man in his 30s, a woman in her 20s, and a child who all recently returned from overseas and are currently in quarantine.

“After further investigation, one of the overseas acquired cases reported yesterday was found to have been previously diagnosed overseas, therefore this case has been removed from South Australia’s total,” SA Health said.


Ally Foster

It has been just two days since the first case of the mutant UK virus strain was detected in Australia and both state and federal governments have introduced a series of changes in a bid to stop a potentially devastating outbreak.

The first case of the mutant strain was detected on Thursday in a woman in her 20s who works as a casual cleaner for a quarantine hotel in Brisbane.

The woman visited multiple stores and used public transport while potentially infectious, sparking fears of a major outbreak and sending Greater Brisbane into a three-day lockdown.

Another discovery of the mutant strain was confirmed today in a woman who flew from Melbourne to Brisbane on a Jetstar flight.

Picture: Gaye Gerard/NCA NewsWire

The woman arrived in Melbourne from the UK on December 26 and tested positive to the virus. However, she was allowed to leave hotel quarantine and fly to Queensland.

Authorities were alerted after the woman was tested again for COVID-19 and returned a positive result.
The UK mutant strain is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than other COVID-19 strains and has now spread to more than 30 other countries.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned it is likely this strain could become the “dominant” variant of the virus.
“We have to assume that this strain will become the dominant strain and it is important to keep re-assessing our settings, keep staying vigilant and for the immediate future keep wearing our masks in those indoor settings,” she said during Saturday’s press conference.

She said authorities can’t ignore “how serious the current mutations of the virus are”.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was an increasing number of international travellers arriving in Australia that have the new strain.

“I just want to take up particularly the issue of the increasing number of people that we’re seeing in our quarantine hotels who have the virus, and not only an increasing number proportionate to our local transmission, but also the new variants,” he said.

“Obviously it puts us on high alert, and we are constantly making changes.”

NSW has now introduced daily testing for all hotel quarantine workers and will require returned travellers to remain in quarantine until at least 14 days after symptom onset and they will also have a test at the end of the isolation period.


Ally Foster

Due to the emergence of new COVID-19 strains, the NSW government has introduced changes to the hotel quarantine system.

Currently, people in hotel quarantine get tested on the first day and then on day two and then again on day 12. They also get tested at any time if they develop symptoms.

“Now, if they test positive, we will be doing genome sequencing in a very timely manner,” chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said.

“What I mean by ‘timely’ is that it still takes about 48 hours for that genome sequencing. It is not a simple test. It does require for the test to come back positive and then for the sequencing to occur.”

NSW is also updating its guidelines in accordance with the communicable Disease Network Australia Guidance.

This means returned travellers won’t be released from quarantine until at least 14 days after symptom onset and they will also have a test at the end of the isolation period.

“It is important to note that some people still can have remnants of the virus for a long time, so we will use an expert panel to ensure we are not releasing cases that are infectious and that will require more intensive testing if anyone still remains PCR-positive,” she said.

“It is important to remember with the sensitivity of our tests, there are
people where we can detect very low levels of virus fragments that don’t present a risk.”

All staff working in quarantine hotels will also undergo daily testing.

Dr Chant said authorities have also been following up with returned travellers who have been released from quarantine.

“We have identified one case that has been tested and does still show remnants of the virus. (They were) assessed as very, very low infection activity, but we are arranging for additional testing underway today and we are taking a precautionary approach by announcing some of the venues that that person attended,” Dr Chant said.


Ally Foster

Despite NSW recorded just one new locally acquired coronavirus infection, it looks like mask requirements will remain in place across Greater Sydney.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian asked residents to remain vigilant and to continue to practice social distancing and follow other COVID-19 safety advice.

Ms Berejikian noted the virus variant known as a the UK strain now exists in 30 countries.

“We have to assume that this strain will become the dominant strain and it is important to keep re-assessing our settings, keep staying vigilant and for the immediate future keep wearing our masks in those indoor settings,” she said during Saturday’s press conference.

“Today when I went to the local supermarket, everyone was wearing a mask. That is deeply appreciated.”


Ally Foster

There has been one locally acquired COVID-19 case in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

The new case was linked to the Berala cluster.

There were five cases detected in hotel quarantine.

More than 25,500 coronavirus tests were conducted yesterday.

NSW recorded one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. This case has been linked to the Berala cluster. Five cases were also recorded in returned travellers. pic.twitter.com/D5rimQNSsl

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 9, 2021

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


Ally Foster

Despite the announcement yesterday that anyone caught not wearing a mask in Greater Brisbane would cop a $200 fine, Queensland police have said they are instead taking a more lenient approach.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said instead of fining people without masks they have been offering face coverings to those that don’t have them.

“What we’ve done is police are handing out masks rather than fines. Our police have handed out 360 masks,” he said.

“That has been really encouraging is that people are keen to wear them once they understand what is required of them.”

Picture: Steve Holland/NCA NewsWire

There were three occasions where police were forced to hand out penalties after people refused to wear the masks offered by police.

“We are giving the option to wear a mask. We are providing them a mask. If they don’t do that, it is actually a more serious offence if they don’t follow a direction,” he said.

“The message is if police officers are offering you a mask, you need to put it on.”

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