Queensland has recorded its first cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 as scientists discover a new lineage of the variant.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says a Nigerian man, who tested positive while in hotel quarantine in Cairns, has been confirmed as an Omicron-positive case.
The man flew into Queensland on Jetstar flight JQ950 from Sydney to Cairns on Friday, December 3.
Everybody on that flight has now been deemed a close contact.
He has been moved to Cairns Hospital and health authorities are considering moving him to Townsville Hospital as part of clinical advice.
Wednesday 8 December – coronavirus cases in Queensland:— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) December 7, 2021
There was one new interstate acquired case - detected in hotel quarantine.
There was one new overseas acquired case - detected in hotel quarantine. #covid19 pic.twitter.com/ACjCWNqZXO
Acting chief health officer Peter Aitken says a South African man, who tested positive recently and remains in a Brisbane hospital has a new Omicron lineage dubbed ‘Omicron like’.
Dr Aitken says the Queensland Forensic and Scientific Services team has discovered there are now two Omicron lineages in Queensland - the South African man is infected with an ‘Omicron-like’ lineage, with tests revealing it differs slightly genetically.
This has led to a re-classification of Omicron.
“The important part is those two sub-lineages, one has the S gene dropout and is the normal means of screening for Omicron, but this other gene then doesn't have this S gene dropout,” he says.
“So it’s going to lead to improvements in people recognising the potential spread of Omicron in all communities."
PLEASE SHARE: Contact tracing sites have been identified at Brisbane Airport, Banyo, Strathpine, Kallangur, Cairns City, Buddina, and Maroochydore.— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) December 7, 2021
Please carefully check the updated locations and times: https://t.co/lREmcgB37L#covid19 pic.twitter.com/BgyJE79ydX
Dr Aitken says as we open borders on Monday there will be more cases and warns there will be disruptions to people’s lives including the potential return of the mask mandate in the future.
“This doesn’t mean that the Covid journey is finished, in many ways it means the Covid journey is just starting,” Dr Aitken says.
“Please don't think we're going to go from elimination to living with Covid in one simple flick.”
“This is going to be a difficult period … we expect cases to peak around March-June.”
VAX MANDATE FROM DEC 17
Ms D’Ath reminded businesses that there was no opt-out option on the vaccination mandate from December 17.
“Can I make it very clear, if you are defined as a business that requires your staff and patrons to be fully vaccinated, you are bound by that directive,” she says.
“It’s a lawful direction.
“Businesses can’t stay with current directions.”
Another case is a traveller from Melbourne, in hotel quarantine.
More than 79 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are now fully vaccinated.