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An international traveller isolating at a Melbourne quarantine hotel is the first confirmed case of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 in Victoria.
Health authorities said genomic sequencing results confirmed on Wednesday that the traveller had contracted the new variant of the virus.
Genomic sequencing has confirmed an overseas traveller who recently arrived in Victoria has contracted the Omicron strain of COVID-19.Credit:Bloomberg.
The traveller, who is fully vaccinated and went straight into hotel quarantine after landing in Victoria from the Netherlands, returned a negative COVID-19 test on December 4 before developing symptoms.
The individual returned a positive result to a second test administered on December 6, which also revealed an S gene dropout in the virus, a sign a person could be infected with Omicron, according to the World Health Organisation.
Yesterday health authorities said they were contacting passengers on the same inbound flight as the traveller with the Omicron strain to ensure they have all been tested for the virus.
Two more COVID-19 cases in the cities of Casey and Brimbank have returned PCR test results showing the S gene dropout. Neither of these cases is believed to be linked to the international traveller.
Authorities have been in touch with the household contacts of these two potential Omicron cases, and are trying to determine the source of the infections.
Genome sequencing is under way to confirm whether they have contracted the Omicron variant.
Contact tracing was ongoing and would likely lead to more close contacts, authorities said.
Several close contacts of the suspected Omicron cases have been told to quarantine for 14 days, while low-risk contacts have been instructed to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Authorities said quarantine advice may change if genomic sequencing shows the cases are not infected with Omicron.
“As was previously announced before the emergence of the Omicron variant, most people who come into contact with a confirmed case outside their home won’t have to self-quarantine, but the Department of Health will continue to manage emerging outbreaks of concern and ‘superspreader events’ and can impose a quarantine period on contacts on a case-by-case basis, depending on evidence,” the statement read.
It comes as Victoria recorded 1312 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five deaths, involving Victorians aged 80 and over. There are currently 11331 active cases in the state.
Hume, Brimbank, Casey, Whittlesea, Melton, Kingston, Moreland, Monash, Wyndham and Boroondara are the local government areas with the highest number of new cases.
A total of 303 Victorians infected with the virus are currently recovering in hospital, of those 51 are in intensive care and 27 on a ventilator. There are an additional 46 patients in intensive care who have been cleared from the virus.
The majority of patients admitted to hospital and intensive care with coronavirus weren’t fully immunised against COVID-19.
More than 1850 Victorians rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated at Victoria’s state-run clinics on Monday, taking the total number of doses administrated at state facilities to just under 5 million.
To date, 91.6 per cent of Victorians aged 12 and over have been fully immunised against COVID-19 and 94.1 per cent of those in the same age bracket have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
More than 25,800 close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are isolating across Victoria.
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