Australia registers first case of new Covid-19 strain that emerged in South Africa

Australia has registered its first case of a new coronavirus strain, known as 501.V2 variant and linked to South Africa, in the northwestern state of Queensland, regional Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Tuesday.

“One overseas individual who arrived in Queensland on December 22 has tested positive for the new South African variant. This will be the first positive case of the South African variant in Australia,” D’Ath said during a briefing.

According to health authorities, genome testing confirmed that a woman, who returned from abroad and was quarantined in a hotel in Brisbane, was infected with the 501.V2 strain.

Queensland authorities are monitoring other passengers who flew on the same flight with the woman who later tested positive for Covid-19, D’Ath added.

In addition to South Africa, several other countries have reported 501.V2 strain of SARS-CoV 2, including Japan and the United Kingdom. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the 501.V2 variant is even more dangerous than another new coronavirus strain that has been spreading in his country since September and is known to be up to 70 percent more contagious. South Africa said there was no evidence to support this claim.

Many countries around the world have halted air traffic with the UK and South Africa over new coronavirus variants.

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