Australia's Victoria on alert as new "high transmission potential" COVID variant detected

2021-06-04 06:36:03 GMT2021-06-04 14:36:03(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The authorities of the Australian state of Victoria are on alert as a new variant of COVID-19 has been detected in the state's latest outbreak and the source of the variant is still unidentified.

The Delta variant, which is the dominant one in India, was identified from two members of a family of four in West Melbourne. However, the health authorities are still in search of how the cases were infected with the variant, since other cases were related to the Kappa variant.

"It is a very significant concern," Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said. "It has not been linked to any sequence cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or anywhere else."

Sutton told the press on Friday that the Delta variant had very high transmission potential, and there isn't much information about severity of illness with this variant, although there were some anecdotal reports of greater severity in children as well as potential increase transmissibility in children, which make the health experts concerned.

The family also traveled to Jervis Bay in the neighbouring state of New South Wales (NSW). Currently Victorian health authorities are working with their counterparts of NSW, Australian Capital Territory and the federal.

"We are examining who is the likely index case in this family, and therefore trying to trace back, where this variant has been picked up," Sutton said.

In addition, the health authorities are chasing down all those primary close contacts of that family.

"In terms of the ongoing sequencing, we will try to look at all other sequences, re-sequenced to the fullest extent possible across Australia to see if there are any potential linkages to known cases and that includes those who have come through formal quarantine but also anyone else, maritime, airline, diplomatic and otherwise," Sutton said.

The state recorded four new local cases on Friday, the first day of its extended lockdown, from 494,39 tests results received in the past 24 hours and another two cases in returned travellers.

Meanwhile, after analysis and research by health experts, two previously recorded cases were declared as false positive cases and no longer considered confirmed cases.

Nevertheless, Acting Premier of Victoria James Merlino said on Friday that the reclassified cases won't change the timetable for the current extended lockdown.

He said the extension was absolutely based on public health advice and would be assessed "day-by-day, hour-by-hour."

"The proposition put forward by public health was that we needed this further seven-day period for Greater Melbourne to absolutely run this thing to the ground, and that remains the case," he said. Enditem