— Health

New COVID-19 variant ‘of significant concern’ emerges in Victoria as state records another four local cases

A new COVID-19 variant has emerged in Victoria’s outbreak, alerting health authorities. Genomic sequencing from two cases in a West Melbourne family has revealed they are infected with a variant first identified in India.

It is a variant of significant concern,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

It remains unclear how that family, who also traveled to Jervis Bay in NSW, contracted the virus.

Three of Friday’s four new cases are linked to the family, taking that West Melbourne cluster to seven.

“It is a concern that it is not linked to other cases, but we are chasing down all those primary case contacts for that family and looking into where it might have been acquired,” Prof Sutton said.


“It has not been linked to any sequence cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or anywhere else that it is not linked in Victoria or any other jurisdiction.”

The other new case is a primary close contact of another confirmed case.

The four new cases take Victoria’s current outbreak to more than 60.

It comes after Thursday’s confirmation that two earlier cases in the outbreak had been ruled false positives.

Health authorities initially thought a woman caught COVID-19 at a Metricon display home at Mickleham and believed a man similarly picked up the virus at Brighton Beach Hotel.


An expert medical panel found that was not the case.

The two suspected “fleeting” transmission cases of coronavirus that are now false positives had been part of the justification for Melbourne’s lockdown extension.

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino said despite the two false positives, there were no immediate plans to shorten Melbourne’s lockdown.

Our answer on that hasn’t changed, nor should it,” Mr Merlino said.

The advice from public health remains the same. “It (false positives or false negatives) has been a rare occurrence, but it has been a feature when you do 100s of thousands of tests.”

The COVID-free pair and their primary close contacts will be released from isolation and exposure sites reclassified, including all in Anglesea along the Great Ocean Road. On Friday morning, the Health Department said eight transmission cases through passing contact still exist.

It added there are still five exposure sites where the virus has spread through people who do not know each other. Also, on Friday, Mr. Merlino said the Commonwealth would try to help Victoria meet an increased vaccine demand. “I’m very pleased that the Federal Government has indicated that it will do all it can to meet the request of Victoria,” Mr. Merlino said. Victoria wants to double the number of AstraZeneca doses available to GPs, and an extra 100,000 Pfizer doses from mid-June for its public vaccination sites.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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