ACT records first mutant strain cases

The quarantine cluster in the ACT has doubled, with two new cases confirmed as the first cases of the highly contagious South African strain were recorded in returned travellers.

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the ACT less than a day after the first cases of the highly contagious South African strain were confirmed in two returned travellers.

Both new cases arrived on a government-chartered plane from Singapore on March 1.

It brings the ACT’s total to 122 cases. All four cases are currently in hotel quarantine.

A man and a woman, both in their 40s, returned positive COVID-19 test results on their fifth day in quarantine are being supported by ACT Health.

“As with the previous two cases reported earlier this week, the new cases will be cared for in a separate area of the hotel from other returned travellers,” an ACT Health spokesman said.

The new female, aged under 20, is a family member of the male who tested positive earlier this week. They have been in quarantine simultaneously.

The new male case was seated in an adjacent row to a previously identified case during the flight to Canberra.

Genome sequencing will be conducted early next week.

Health authorities confirmed the first highly contagious South African strain in two returned travellers on Thursday.

The men, one aged in his 40s and another aged under 20, had tested negative before travelling to Singapore and are likely to have contracted the virus while in transit to the ACT.

The pair was on board a government chartered plane with 173 other passengers.

Most of those passengers are serving their quarantine in Canberra while 31 are in quarantine in Sydney.

Of the 122 recorded cases of coronavirus in the ACT, 115 have recovered.

There were 538 tests over the past 24 hours.

All those quarantining in Canberra returned negative day one test results.

On Saturday, health authorities said genome sequencing showed both travellers had been infected with the South African variant but were well and had been moved to a separate area of the hotel for further care and support.

The pair are unrelated.

“ACT Health is continuing to liaise with NSW Health authorities and Singapore Airlines about the two cases to support other contact tracing efforts.”

NSW recorded three new active cases in returned overseas travellers on Saturday but no new locally acquired cases for the 48th consecutive day.

A NSW Health spokeswoman said the three new cases had not been on the same flight as the ACT cases.

One of the 56 cases being treated for the virus in NSW is in intensive care but does not require a ventilator.

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