Family-of-four in NSW hotel quarantine test positive to South African strain of coronavirus

A plane-load of people are on alert after a family-of-four who flew into Sydney tested positive to a highly contagious South African mutant strain of coronavirus.

A family-of-four in NSW hotel quarantine have tested positive to the worrying South African mutation of COVID-19, NSW Health has revealed.

Like the UK strain, which is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than earlier version of the virus, the South African strain is passed on at an alarming rate.

The incident raises fresh fears after several leaks of the virus from hotel quarantine in NSW.

Since November 30, NSW Health has confirmed it has also detected six cases of the UK strain of coronavirus with two of those still in isolation.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant on Saturday announced that positive cases in hotel quarantine will now undergo genome sequencing, and won’t be released until 14 days after the onset of symptoms.

Dr Kerry Chant has confirmed the South Africa strain of COVID-19 has been detected in returned travellers in Special Health Accommodation in Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Dr Kerry Chant has confirmed the South Africa strain of COVID-19 has been detected in returned travellers in Special Health Accommodation in Sydney.

Dr Chant said that the “possible” South African mutation virus cases in the family were detected on Thursday night.

“Preliminary tests arriving last night, identified a group of four travellers in the Special Health Accomodation, who are positive for the new COVID variant identified in South Africa,” Dr Chant told media on Friday.

“Further testing is under way to confirm these results, but as a precaution the 16 people who were accompanying that flight (those four people were on), have, as a precaution, moved to the Special Health Accomodation.

“That is because there are concerns that this South African strain does share a similar mutation from the UK, but may be associated with increased transmissibility.

“That is why we are taking a very cautious approach there.”

Like the UK mutant strain, which is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than other strains, the South African strain is also highly contagious.

Health experts suggest the South African strain is also more resistant to vaccines.

Dr Chant said NSW had detected six cases of the UK strain since November 30 and two remained in the special accommodation while the other four were no longer deemed infectious.

A NSW Health spokeswoman said that the Special Health Accomodation was for people who required extra medical attention in quarantine.

NSW has recorded six cases of the UK strain of coronavirus since November 30. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

NSW has recorded six cases of the UK strain of coronavirus since November 30.

“Two cases with the UK strain and the four cases with the possible South African strain are currently receiving care in the Special Health Accomodation and will be cleared to leave after they are clinically assessed as no longer infectious,” she said.

“The Special Health Accommodation comprises more than 600 apartments, with a mix of one to three bedrooms, totalling about 750 rooms.

“There are designated floors for patients who are positive, negative or pending a result.

“Physical separation of patient cohorts according to COVID-19 status is a critical part of the infection prevention control process in the Special Health Accomodation.

“All overseas travellers who test positive for COVID-19 while in hotel quarantine are managed in the Special Health Accomodation and remain there until they are assessed as no longer infectious.”

This latest scare comes after a security guard working at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel tested positive to coronavirus in August after catching it while working.

In December a worker at a quarantine hotel, the Darling Harbour Novotel, tested positive for coronavirus.

As well, a quarantine transport driver is believed to have sparked the Berala cluster after becoming infected by a family who had returned to Australia.

And genomic sequencing has suggested that Avalon cluster was a US variant of the virus and its patient zero, who has not been found through contact tracing, caught COVID from a returned traveller.

Coronavirus outbreaks at Melbourne’s Rydges on Swanston and Stamford Plaza Hotel, where returned travellers were being quarantined, also led to 99 per cent of Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 cases and 801 deaths.

Adelaide was also sent into a six-day lockdown in November after a COVID-19 strain linked to a security guard escaped from a medi-hotel before infecting 33 patients in the Parafield cluster.

A review into how it happened found that “reduced ventilation” within the hotel corridors may have contributed.






Previous Next