Delta COVID-19 Variant Identified in Melbourne Outbreak

Australian authorities in the State of Victoria announced on Friday that they have detected for the first time the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 virus variant in the latest outbreak on Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city and state capital.

“That variant is the Delta variant, it is now infamous in India and increasingly found in the United Kingdom. It is a variant of significant concern,” said Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton in Melbourne on Friday.

“It spread extremely rapidly across India, it’s become the predominant variant, indeed almost the exclusive variant there, and in surrounding countries,” added Sutton, emphasizing the seriousness of the discovered variant.

Health officials detected the new variant among two members of a family who traveled from Melbourne to neighboring New South Wales including Jervis Bay and Goulburn two weeks ago.

Prof Alexandra Martiniuk, an honorary senior research fellow at the George Institute for Global Health, said Delta strain is one of the so-called four variants of concern, “more concerning variant than the Kappa variant,” which is still more infectious than other strands.

Melbourne is currently under the second week of hard lockdown after it was extended for another week until June 10.

Prof Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, said the efficacy of AstraZeneca against this particular variant was yet to be seen.

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