Qld man has super-contagious UK mutant COVID strain
A traveller returning to Queensland from Africa has tested positive to the fast-spreading UK variant of the pandemic virus.
Queensland Health said the man in his 30s had been taken to hospital from hotel quarantine.
He had recently returned from Ghana.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said genomic sequencing revealed the man had the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The UK variant is believed to be up to 70 per cent more contagious.
"This detection highlights the importance of our hotel quarantine policy, especially for overseas travellers," Dr Young said.
"Cases are rising at a rapid rate internationally and new variants like this one would be difficult to contain in the community.
"Our best approach is ensuring potential cases are detected where they pose no risk to other Queenslanders."
The diagnosis comes after a Sunshine Coast woman tested positive to a South African variant of the virus, also believed to be highly infectious, earlier this week.
News of the UK variant, known as B117, reaching Queensland comes as traces of COVID-19 were detected in sewage at two more sites in southeast Queensland.
Routine testing returned positive results for viral fragments in wastewater at treatment plants at Bundamba, in West Moreton, and Merrimac, on the Gold Coast.
The samples were collected at Bundamba on December 28 and Merrimac on December 24.
Dr Young said continued positive sewage results were particularly worrying given the NSW cluster and new cases in Victoria.
"Both of these treatment plants collect wastewater from large urban populations," she said.
"These positive test results are concerning as they may indicate either a recovered case or undetected active cases living in or visiting the area.
"It is very important that anyone in the Bundamba and Merrimac catchments who has COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, comes forward for testing. If there are active cases in the area, it is important that we detect them early to prevent further transmission.
"With the New South Wales cluster growing and new cases in Victoria, it's better to be safe than sorry."
Wastewater tests last week also revealed positive results at seven wastewater sites across Queensland - Victoria Point, Oxley Creek, Goodna, Fairfield, Cairns North, Redcliffe and Nambour.
"It's not just residents we want to reach, but holiday-makers as well," Dr Young said.
Three new cases were reported in Queensland today. All were infected overseas, and have returned from South Africa, India and Pakistan and are being transferred to hospital. Genome sequencing is underway to determine the viral lineages.
The cases take Queensland's COVID-19 total to 1,253, of which 14 are active.
As Queensland prepares to welcome in the New Year, Dr Young said she was closely monitoring the coronavirus situation in NSW and Victoria.
"I'm urging Queenslanders travelling to these states to reassess their plans - if it is not necessary, then consider staying here," she said.
"The next 24 hours are critical for Victoria and the NSW cluster is growing daily. Queensland is in a good position right now because we acted quickly to declare greater Sydney a hotspot.
"We've worked hard to keep COVID-19 out of the Queensland community and we do not want that to come undone because of complacency."
Originally published as Qld man has super-contagious UK mutant COVID strain