Covid Australia: Fears as UK ‘super strain’ reaches hotel quarantine

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Covid Australia: Fears as UK ‘super strain’ reaches hotel quarantine

There are fears a coronavirus super strain that's forced the United Kingdom back into lockdown could escape Australian hotel quarantine and infect the

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There are fears a coronavirus super strain that’s forced the United Kingdom back into lockdown could escape Australian hotel quarantine and infect the community.

The virus strain, which is an estimated 70 times more contagious than the original, has already reached Australian shores via returned travellers.

So far, at least two returned travellers in Sydney, three in Perth, four in Victoria and one in South Australia have been diagnosed with the super strain. 

And experts are concerned Australian children could fall victim to the highly infectious virus if it does seep into the community.

Children were largely considered safe from the virus because of extremely low rates of serious illness, but the new strain appears more dangerous to young people.

The findings have increased calls to ban Australian arrivals from the UK entirely until they manage to get the new mutant strain under control. 

Passengers are tested for Covid-19 at Melbourne Airport on December 20, amid fears the UK's mutant strain could escape hotel quarantine

Passengers are tested for Covid-19 at Melbourne Airport on December 20, amid fears the UK’s mutant strain could escape hotel quarantine

A member of the Australian Defence Force speaks to a Victorian Police officer outside of a hotel quarantine facility. There are fears the mutant Covid strain could leak from quarantine

A member of the Australian Defence Force speaks to a Victorian Police officer outside of a hotel quarantine facility. There are fears the mutant Covid strain could leak from quarantine

Children were largely considered safe from the virus because of extremely low rates of serious illness, but the new strain appears more dangerous to young people (pictured, a reunited family in Perth)

Children were largely considered safe from the virus because of extremely low rates of serious illness, but the new strain appears more dangerous to young people (pictured, a reunited family in Perth)

Jeremy Nicholson, from Murdoch University’s Australian National Phenome Centre, told The Australian the new mutations are more likely to enter children’s lungs than in the past. 

‘The easier it is to get in, the more infectious it is and therefore the fewer virus particles in the air needed. This variant finds it easier to get into children than previous versions,’ he explained. 

‘With the new variant they get much worse respiratory symptoms because the virus can get into the lung more easily.’ 

The newest strain, which is wreaking havoc on the UK, has 17 unique mutations.  

If children become even more vulnerable to an Australian outbreak, it could change the way the nation handles future lockdowns, closing down more schools and activities, Professor Nicholson warned.   

Pictured: A healthcare worker at a drive through Covid-19 testing facility at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds on Monday

Pictured: A healthcare worker at a drive through Covid-19 testing facility at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds on Monday

The quarantine system was brought into place on March 20 when Australia shut its borders, with only Australian citizens, permanent residents or those with special exemptions allowed in

The quarantine system was brought into place on March 20 when Australia shut its borders, with only Australian citizens, permanent residents or those with special exemptions allowed in

Experts are concerned Australian children could fall victim to the highly infectious virus if it does seep into the community

Experts are concerned Australian children could fall victim to the highly infectious virus if it does seep into the community

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid also explained how recent examples of Covid escaping hotel quarantine in Australia was cause for concern.

‘We’ve already seen our quarantine systems fail with the virus escaping… But with this highly transmissible variant of COVID, either the UK or South African one, there’s going to be more potential for that spread to occur from an infected traveller to a quarantine worker,’ he said.

Dr Khorshid supports suggestions all travellers should be Covid tested and present a negative result before they’re able to board a plane into Australia.

He acknowledged that people could test negative but continue developing systems once they arrive, but said it might weed out more cases.

The quarantine system was brought into place on March 20 when Australia shut its borders, with only Australian citizens, permanent residents or those with special exemptions allowed in.

Contact tracers have linked the Berala cluster, which has 16 known cases, to a quarantine driver who contracted the virus while transporting a family from an international flight to a hotel

Contact tracers have linked the Berala cluster, which has 16 known cases, to a quarantine driver who contracted the virus while transporting a family from an international flight to a hotel

He acknowledged that people could test negative but continue developing systems once they arrive, but said it might weed out more cases

He acknowledged that people could test negative but continue developing systems once they arrive, but said it might weed out more cases

A police officer gestures as health care workers look on prior to passengers arriving in Perth

A police officer gestures as health care workers look on prior to passengers arriving in Perth

It hoped the stop coronavirus flooding into the country, like was seen across the world in nations without similar measures.  

Victoria could push for a ban on Australians returning from the UK as a new coronavirus strain runs rampant – infecting 58,784 residents in one day. 

Police Minister Lisa Neville suggested Australia should consider closing its airports to flights from Britain due to the ‘concerning’ new variant.

‘You cannot look at the UK and not be concerned about it,’ she said during Victoria’s daily coronavirus update on Tuesday.  

New South Wales narrowly avoided catastrophe four times in the past month due to Covid breaches in the hotel quarantine system for returned travellers.

All current outbreaks in the state, which threaten to derail Australia’s envy-inducing handling of the pandemic, are linked to various bungles in the important isolation system. 

Victoria could push for a ban on Australians returning from the UK as a new coronavirus strain runs rampant - infecting 58,784 residents in one day

Victoria could push for a ban on Australians returning from the UK as a new coronavirus strain runs rampant – infecting 58,784 residents in one day

An image taken from a several hour long time-lapse shows a person sitting in the morning sun during their two-week mandatory quarantine period at a hotel in Sydney

An image taken from a several hour long time-lapse shows a person sitting in the morning sun during their two-week mandatory quarantine period at a hotel in Sydney

Contact tracers have linked the Berala cluster, which has 16 known cases, to a quarantine driver who contracted the virus while transporting a family from an international flight to a hotel.

They believe he gave the virus to a colleague who then visited the alcohol store and passed it on to a staff member. 

Sydney’s last significant cluster in Avalon in the Northern Beaches is also believed to be linked to a separate leak from hotel quarantine. 

Contact tracers said the Avalon cluster strain appeared to be similar to a virus variant detected in a quarantined American traveller who tested positive last month.

However, just how the virus spread to Avalon – sparking 148 cases, many contracted at local pubs – remains unknown. 

‘We may never find a link back,’ NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said. 

A cleaner at Darling Harbour’s Novotel quarantine hotel tested positive to the virus on December 2. She has not been linked to any further cases.

Another driver, a Sydney Ground Transport employee who ferried around air crew from the airport to their hotel, tested positive on December 16, taking the number of breaches in the last month to four. 

United Airlines crew members wave and blow kisses as they depart the Novotel Hotel in Darling Harbour on December 03. New South Wales narrowly avoided catastrophe four times in the past month due to Covid breaches in the hotel quarantine system for returned travellers

United Airlines crew members wave and blow kisses as they depart the Novotel Hotel in Darling Harbour on December 03. New South Wales narrowly avoided catastrophe four times in the past month due to Covid breaches in the hotel quarantine system for returned travellers

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