NSW Health has detected a sixth probable case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, as the Prime Minister urges the public not to panic.
Initial testing has strongly indicated that another overseas traveler – who recently returned from Africa to Sydney – has the worrying new variant, NSW Health said.
The man in his 40s, who had spent six months in Nigeria, tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and is fully vaccinated.
But Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet calls for calm, saying Omicron “was always going to get here”.
âWe’re being asked questions here about six cases – six cases,â he said on Wednesday.
âLet’s shift the thinkingâ¦ It’s not about the number of cases. It’s about the hospitalizations and ICU presentations.â
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the last suspected case landed in Sydney on Thursday on flight QR908 from Doha – the same flight as the Central Coast woman who was the fifth case.
The man, from Cabramatta in southwest Sydney, has been circulating in the community and there will be a list of NSW Health exhibition sites later.
“The reason it was tested is that it is showing symptoms. But I understand at this point that these are mild symptoms,” Hazzard told reporters.
Once confirmed, the new infection will bring the total number of confirmed Omicron cases in NSW to six.
Mr Hazzard said the government is not considering another lockdown.
âI feel it’s time to change our approach,â he said.
âWe don’t know how many more variants of this virus will come.
“The challenge for us as a government and other governments (…) is to find a different balance than we had in the past.”
When the national cabinet met on Tuesday, the Federal, Victorian and NSW governments agreed they were “not keen to see a return to lockdowns.”
Rather, the restrictions will be “tailor-made” if there are health concerns, Perrottet said, with the next step in the state’s roadmap on lockdown slated for December 15.
A fully vaccinated woman in her 30s became the state’s fifth confirmed case of Omicron on Tuesday and, unlike previously reported cases, had visited several locations on Friday and Saturday last week.
Two other people on the woman’s flight from Doha on Thursday have also tested positive since then, and none had been in southern Africa.
The woman is in isolation at her home on the central coast and will not be fined because she arrived before the new mandatory quarantine came into effect.
Things changed on Saturday when Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that people arriving from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi and Seychelles were to enter quarantine at the hotel for two weeks.
The other four people confirmed to have the Omicron variant are in special health accommodation.
NSW now also requires that all international arrivals be tested and isolated for 72 hours at a designated address or accommodation.
On Wednesday, the penalty for failing to meet isolation, testing and quarantine requirements rose from $ 1,000 for individuals to $ 5,000, and doubled from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 for businesses.
The state recorded 251 new cases of COVID-19 and no deaths within 24 hours as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Some 94.6 percent of people 16 years and older received a dose of the vaccine, while 92.5 percent received a full shot.
More than 81 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 15 received a dose of the vaccine and 76.7 percent received both.
The emergence of the new variant also saw the number of people receiving booster shots increase by 40%, Hazzard said.
Australian Associated Press