NSW Omicron COVID-19 case numbers grow to seven, health authorities ‘concerned’ about flight transmission – ABC News

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NSW’s seventh confirmed case of the Omicron COVID-19 strain arrived on a flight from Doha last week but had not spent time in southern Africa.

The new infection was identified on Thursday by NSW Health, which has urgently retested swabs taken from 500 returned travellers who have arrived in the state since November 22.

Health authorities are concerned the person became infected while on Qatar Airways flight QR908 which landed in Sydney on November 23.

Two members of the person’s household, who were also on the plane, have tested positive for COVID-19 and genomic sequencing is underway to determine if they too have the Omicron variant.

The family is currently isolating in a Sydney quarantine facility.

NSW Health is requesting every person who was on the flight to immediately get a PCR test and self-isolate while awaiting further advice.

Mantra Services Apartments on Brown Street in Chatswood has been identified as a possible exposure site, after the traveller stayed there between November 23 and 30.

Anyone who was at the venue on those dates is considered a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until receiving a negative result.

Positive Omicron cases have also been identified in passengers on two other Qatar Airways flights from Doha, which landed on November 25 and 27 respectively.

Two further cases arrived on Singapore Airlines flight SQ211 on Sunday.

Health authorities have urged all people potentially impacted by the flights or exposure sites to get another test even if they had been tested in recent days.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said swab samples taken from 500 travellers who flew into the state since November 22 had tested negative for the Omicron strain.

All of the 271 COVID-19 cases announced in the 24 hours to 8pm last night were Delta strain infections.

Mr Hazzard said authorities remained on high alert but were pleased with the low number of Omicron cases detected so far. 

All travellers arriving in Australia from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi must isolate for 14 days under new rules introduced to curb the spread of Omicron.

People who have been in those countries within the last 14 days must enter self-isolation and get tested immediately.

Fines for not complying with health orders have been raised to $10,000 for companies and $5,000 for individuals in response to Omicron fears.

Fully vaccinated travellers who have not been in those countries can leave isolation after 72 hours if they receive a negative test.

A man from Cabramatta in Sydney’s south west, who had been in Nigeria for six months, was yesterday confirmed to have the Omicron variant.

Mr Hazzard said the man’s interaction in the community had been minimal.

“Clearly the community in Cabramatta are on high alert, but I stress the gentleman in his 40s had not been out and about at many facilities. So at this stage there has been no evidence of further transmission in the area.” Mr Hazzard said.

“It is reassuring it has not appeared to spread in the community, but as Health Minister I seriously question whether we already have it out in the community.

“We know it is highly transmissible, but the good news to date, generally it is showing up in a very mild way with the individuals who have it.”

There are now eight confirmed cases of the Omicron strain in Australia, with the other case discovered in a person in quarantine in the Northern Territory.

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