Passengers aboard a Qatar Airways flight that landed in Brisbane last month will have their quarantine period extended after it was revealed several people on board tested positive for the Russian strain of coronavirus.
Due to be released from isolation today, all 74 passengers will have their quarantine period extended for a further five days as authorities investigate and organise additional testing.
“Our active monitoring of COVID-19 cases has identified a potential link between cases detected with the B1.1.317 variant (also known as the Russian variant) in a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Brisbane,” a spokesperson for Queensland Health said this afternoon in a statement.
So far, two people aboard the flight have tested positive for the Russian strain of coronavirus. (Getty)
“This flight arrived in Brisbane on February 17, February 2021.
“As more variants emerge, we are taking a cautious approach.
“This new variant has meant we’ve had to extend the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for another five days and organise additional testing for 74 travellers who may have been exposed to this new variant.”
The Russian variant of COVID-19 has so far been confirmed in two passengers aboard the flight, while genomic testing on a third passenger who tested positive is underway.
Authorities have confirmed there is no ongoing risk to the public.
After landing in Brisbane, the flight continued to New Zealand and authorities there are investigating a fourth person who has tested positive for the virus.
Health officials know little about the new Russian variant so far.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE STRAINS SO FAR
Known as B.1.351, it has now become the dominant strain in South Africa. It was first detected in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, in October 2020, and first detected in Australia late last year. South Africa has temporarily halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the variant. There is currently no evidence to suggest it is more deadly than the original strain of the virus.
Known as P.1, it’s suspected of fuelling a COVID resurgence in Brazil, where 260,000 people have already died. The variant is believed to have originated in Manaus and is feared to me more transmissible than other strains. Scientists are still researching its capabilities.
Known as B.1.1.7
, the variant was first detected in the United Kingdom at the end of 2020. It quickly spread across the UK and more than 70 other countries, including Australia. It is thought to be more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19.