ACT records first cases of South African strain

The South African strain of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the ACT for the first time among two returned overseas travellers. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

The ACT has recorded its first cases of the more contagious South African COVID-19 strain in two returned travellers who are in hotel quarantine.

Health authorities confirmed the active cases on Thursday, saying the men, one aged in his 40s and another aged under 20, had tested negative before travelling to Singapore so likely contracted the virus while in transit from overseas to the ACT.

On Saturday, they 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.

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The pair are unrelated.

Of the 177 people on the flight to Canberra, 31 flew on to Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Of the 177 people on the flight to Canberra, 31 flew on to Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Meanwhile, the other 144 passengers who were on the federal government-facilitated Singapore Airlines repatriation flight and disembarked in Canberra are in mandatory hotel quarantine and all returned negative day one testing results.

Additional testing has been arranged to take place on Saturday.

An further 31 people who were on the flight flew on to Sydney, where they are also in hotel quarantine.

“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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