Australia Victoria reports 1,007 new cases and NSW 150 amid Omicron fears
South Africa tries to calm fears over new Covid variant 'Omicron'
Belgium revealed a case of the variant - named 'Omicron' by the WHO overnight - prompting EU chiefs to call for an 'emergency brake' on all travel from southern Africa after it was found in Israel.South African medics moved to calm a wave of panic over a new ultra-infectious and vaccine resistant Covid strain today as its arrival in Europe sparked fears of a new Christmas shutdown.
Victoria has recorded 1,007 newcases while has reported 150 as fears continue to grow over the Omicron strain.
The Victorian health department announced another three deaths on Monday and confirmed the state is now managing 11,501 active Covid-19 cases.
Fears continue to mount over the spread of Omicron in Australia after NSW premier Dominic Perrottet announced a third case could be infected with the variant.
Some 141 travellers returned to Sydney after flying in from one of the nine southern Africa countries that has since been placed under a travel ban by Australia.
We Know Almost Nothing About the Omicron Variant
Here’s everything we do.
Two of them returned a positive result for the Omicron strain on Sunday while a third is believed to have been infected with the variant, Mr Perrottet revealed on Monday.
'There are two, possibly three, positive cases among those 141,'he said.
'Travellers on five flights over the last 24 hours are in our health quarantine facility.'
There are 300 COVID patients in Victoria's hospitals, 45 of them are actively infected with the virus in intensive care and 17 requiring ventilation.
The seven-day hospitalisation average is 296.
Virus testers processed almost 48,397 results on Sunday, while 1813 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 in state-run hubs.
More than 90 per cent of Victorians aged over 12 are fully vaccinated.
What you need to know about the omicron variant
Omicron is the newest Covid-19 “variant of concern,” according to the World Health Organization.Though the variant’s existence was first reported by South Africa, it has also been found in Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, meaning the variant has already spread — though how far is unclear, as new cases continue cropping up around the world.
Meanwhile, all international arrivals to Victoria are now required to quarantine at home for 72 hours, following the emergence of the Omicron strain, with authorities warning the orders may be extended.
New arrivals who have recently been in one of nine southern African countries must now quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.
Those countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, The Seychelles, and Zimbabwe.
Anyone already in Victoria who has been to those countries in the past 14 days must also be tested and isolate for two weeks.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton on Sunday said the new measures were necessary for authorities to gauge the health response required by the new variant.
'It is sensible for us to take that precautionary ... and hopefully temporary approach as many other countries around the world have done,' he said.
Key questions about Omicron's transmissibility, whether it results in milder or more serious illness and the effectiveness of vaccines are yet to be answered.
More to come
Omicron joins an alphabet of COVID-19 variants — here’s how it differs to those that came before .
There have been 11 COVID-19 strains named by the WHO, including the newly-identified Omicron. But what happened to the rest of them?At present, it is unclear whether Omicron is more transmissible than Delta, which prompted lockdowns across Australia's east coast earlier this year, or if it will impact vaccine immunity.