News Coronavirus Ship with mystery virus strain poses problems for Qld health authorities

Ship with mystery virus strain poses problems for Qld health authorities

mystery virus strain sofrana
The Sofrana Surville remains moored off Mooloolaba after arriving from NZ. Photo: Vessel Finder
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A cargo ship has been forced to anchor off the Sunshine Coast amid concerns a previously undetected strain of COVID-19 is on board.

The ship, Sofrana Surville, sailed into Australian waters from New Zealand via Noumea on Monday.

An engineer who worked on the Liberian-registered Sofrana as well as another ship tested positive to coronavirus in New Zealand at the weekend.

The engineer has a strain of the virus not previously detected in New Zealand or Australia, officials say.

Queensland Health said there have not yet been confirmed cases on the ship. Its 19 crew will be tested.

Elsewhere, the single case of coronavirus reported in Victoria on Tuesday is believed to be a rare case of a patient being reinfected with the virus.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the case, which was reported after an earlier positive test, had been reviewed by an expert panel.

“[It] concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to say the second positive test presented viral shedding, so the case is being monitored closely,” he said.

“It is through an abundance of caution that we are assuming that is a positive case, rather than the person shedding after the original infection.”

There have been only a handful of reported virus reinfections, despite infections topping 40 million worldwide this week. The Victorian case is Australia’s first.

Victoria also confirmed three new COVID cases on Wednesday, another single-digit day helped to further drag down Melbourne’s 14-day average ahead of a likely easing of virus rules this coming weekend.

The average has fallen to 6.2, and is inching steadily towards the goal of five the state government had set to further wind back virus rules.

“We did genuinely hope, on Sunday, to be able to make some announcements about the future and if these numbers stay on trend we will be able to do that,” Mr Andrews said.

Melbourne’s mystery cases – another key benchmark – have also fallen. They are down to 10, from 13 on Wednesday.

In NSW, there were 10 more infections on Wednesday. They included two in the community, both linked to the outbreak at the Great Beginnings childcare centre at Oran Park in south-western Sydney. There are now 22 cases linked with the Oran Park community cluster.

The others were in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

victoria numbers
The 2019 Cox Plate crowd. Plans were announced (and quickly scrapped) for a much smaller crowd on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Mr Andrews said the controversial decision to decide to allow a select group of spectators on course for Saturday’s 100th running of the Cox Plate was “wrong”.

The government swiftly backtracked on the move – announced by state Racing Minister Martin Pakula on Tuesday – after it sparked a wave of political and online outrage.

“It was a wrong decision, we have rescinded the decision and it’s not happening on Saturday and with the greatest respect, I am focused on what is happening on Sunday,” Mr Andrews said.

“It was cancelled because clearly it did not meet the expectations of the Victorian community.”

The horse owners were to have been permitted at Moonee Valley on Friday and Saturday, despite Melbourne’s ongoing limits on socialising – at home and in hospitality venues – severely curtailing any celebrations for this weekend’s AFL grand final.

Victorians have also endured months of being unable to see family, go to funerals, have visitors at the hospital or open their businesses.