News Coronavirus Two Omicron cases in Qld overseas arrivals

Two Omicron cases in Qld overseas arrivals

QLD Omicron
Yvette D'Ath is hopeful Queenslanders realise the protection a booster gives them from Omicron. Photo: Getty
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A new Omicron sub-lineage, known as Omicron ‘like’, has been identified in an overseas arrival to Queensland from South Africa.

Confirmation of the lineage came as state health authorities identified another case of Omicron in an overseas arrival from Nigeria, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Wednesday

“I want to give a huge thank you to our forensic [and] scientific services, because it is their work … with the international committee that has led to the… reclassifying of Omicron into two lineages, and we have both of them here in Queensland,” Ms D’Ath said.

The case from Nigeria is in hotel quarantine in Cairns. Close contacts on the flight they took from Sydney have been expanded from those sitting nearby to the entire plane.

“Those people, because it’s a direct flight from Sydney, should all be in some form of quarantine unless they were transiting on elsewhere,” Ms D’Ath said.

The second Omicron case is in hotel quarantine in Brisbane.

When identifying the original Omicron variant, labs have indicated that when using PCR tests, one of three target genes is not detected, the World Health Organisation says.

This is known as S gene dropout, which the new sub-lineage does not have, Queensland’s acting chief health officer Peter Aitken said.

“It’s going to lead to improvements in people recognising the potential spread of Omicron in all communities, so that’s a great national contribution,” he said on Wednesday.

The arrival of the variant was a reminder the pandemic was not over as Queensland prepared to open its borders to interstate hot spots on Monday, Dr Aitken said.

“In many ways, the COVID journey has just started,” he said.

“We will have cases, it means that we will have to look at mask-wearing … we will have to contact trace, we will have to have quarantine for close contacts.”

Queensland is closing in on its 80 per cent full vaccination target, with 79.11 per cent of eligible people aged over 16 having received two doses.

But there is concern about jab hesitancy among a significant portion of the state’s younger population.

For those aged 70 and over, Ms D’Ath said almost 95 per cent were fully vaccinated, and for the 50-plus age group the figure was almost 90 per cent.

“You’re certainly pulling your weight as far as getting vaccinations,” Ms D’Ath said.

“It really is our 20 to 39-year-olds where we have a larger proportion who are still not vaccinated for one dose.”

Confirmation of Omicron’s arrival in Queensland came as the state reported two virus infections in quarantine on Wednesday, one from interstate and one from overseas.