Queensland has recorded no new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 but has detected a new Omicron variant, known as Omicron-like, in an overseas arrival.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath confirmed an arrival, who came into the state from South Africa, is the first to have been identified as having the particular strain.
“I want to give a huge thank you to our forensic scientific services because it is their work, working with the international committee, that has led to the international committee reclassifying Omicron into two lineages, and we have both of them here in Queensland,” Ms D’Ath said.
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“The gentleman the other day has been defined as having ‘Omicron-like’, that is the new lineage and the name that will be given to this variant that has been identified and confirmed by the international committee.
“It’s a first and it may be that others will now be able to identify this now that we know what its makeup is.”
The man is currently receiving treatment in Brisbane.
Another Omicron case was also detected in an overseas arrival from Nigeria.
Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Peter Aitken said the patient was in Cairns but that he may be moved to Townsville Hospital.
Dr Aitken said it was a reminder that COVID-19 is far from over.
“This doesn’t mean that the Covid journey is finished, in many ways it means the Covid journey is just starting,” Dr Aitken said.
He warned there would still be disruptions to people’s lives once borders reopen on Monday.
“We will have cases, it means that we will have to look at mask-wearing, we will have to contact trace,” he said.
He admitted it is still too early to tell how severe the Omicron variant may be.
“We don’t know enough about it, as far as that means as far as clinical severity, vaccine effectiveness,” he said.
“What we do know is that Omicron is more infectious and more transmissible.”
“But severity lags about 7-10 days behind case diagnosis, so we need to wait and see.”