A new variant of the Delta virus has been detected for the first time in Australia in a hotel quarantine facility in New South Wales.
The Delta-plus variant, also known as AY.4.2, has been seen in several other countries and is the fastest growing strain of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom.
The case found in Sydney is so far the only infection linked to the variant in Australia but with the state welcoming home international travellers next Monday, experts say it’s likely more cases will start to appear.
Aussies have however been urged not to ‘panic’ as there is yet to be any information which confirms it is more infectious than the current strain which plunged Sydney into a four-month lockdown.
The Delta-plus variant, or AY.4.2, has been seen in several other countries and is the fastest growing strain of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom. It has now been detected in NSW (pictured Sydney)
Dr Megan Steain, a University of Sydney virologist, said it isn’t unusual for more variants to be found.
‘We can’t be panicking every time we see a few more mutations.’
The Delta-plus variant was detected in mid-August but was revealed by health authorities this week.
In the UK, the variant is growing about 17 per cent faster than other variants, according to initial testing.
Experts have said that as NSW’s borders are set to reopen next week, it’s likely there will be more cases of the new variant (pictured Qantas cabin crew member)
Some experts have reportedly said the strain could be up to 15 per cent more transmissible than the most common variant – however this has not been confirmed.
Dr Norelle Sherry, a medical microbiologist at the Doherty Institute said the variant wasn’t ‘hugely worrying at this stage’.
‘The apparent increased growth rate of this virus, compared to Delta, is still much less than the differences between the Alpha and Delta variants. That was a much bigger jump, compared to what we’re seeing between Delta and AY.4.2,’ she told the publication.
Australia’s Chief Health Officer Professor Paul Kelly addressed the new strain last week and said it was not of ‘concern’.
‘Just to be clear, this is not a new variant, it is not a variant of concern or even of interest at the moment but we continue to have that very close vigilance of the international situation, to watch out for what next variant may come from this virus,’ he told reporters.
‘In the UK there is a lot of circulating virus there, mainly in teenagers, they have re-commenced school at the moment.’
There have been several other variants stemmed from Delta found all over the globe, such as one detected in NSW earlier this month.
NSW’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed that variant had been found in eight infected residents but stressed there was nothing to suggest it was anymore dangerous than the current virus in circulation.
‘There is no evidence that this new strain presents any differences regarding transmission, vaccine effectiveness or severity,’ she said at the time.
There have been several variants stemmed from the Delta strain found all over the globe (Pictured: Pedestrians seen at Pitt Street Mall)