Four suspected Omicron cases being analysed in Victoria

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Victorian health authorities are investigating another two suspected cases of the Omicron variant in the community.

The cases are in addition to the two being examined on Wednesday, which authorities said were still under investigation.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned against panic over the Omicron strain.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Of the four total suspected cases, one has been identified in the City of Casey, one in the City of Wyndham and two in the City of Brimbank. Whole genome sequencing is being rapidly undertaken to confirm whether these are the Omicron variant.

An international traveller isolating at a Melbourne quarantine hotel on Wednesday became Victoria’s first confirmed case of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.

At least three of the cases currently under investigation are not linked to international travel.

A number of contacts have been identified and are quarantining for seven or 14 days, based on their vaccination status, the Health Department says.

Other people of lower risk were instructed to get a test and isolate until they received a negative result.

Authorities said further contact tracing work would happen to see if more contacts could be identified.

Victoria’s first Omicron case involved an international traveller who travelled to Melbourne from the Netherlands via Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

The traveller, who was fully vaccinated, is now isolating at a Melbourne quarantine hotel. He tested negative for COVID-19 on December 4 before developing symptoms.

He returned a positive result to a second test administered on December 6, which revealed an S gene dropout. Genome sequencing confirmed he had contracted the Omicron variant on Wednesday.

To date, cases of the new strain have been detected in Victoria, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

The confirmed Omicron cases come as Victoria recorded 1232 cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths on Thursday.

There are currently 11,224 active cases in the state with, and 315 Victorians infected with the virus are currently being treated in hospital. Of those, 52 are in intensive care, 27 of them on a ventilator. An additional 44 patients who were in intensive care were cleared of the virus.

More than 3600 Victorians got vaccinated against COVID-19 at state-run clinics on Wednesday, taking the total number of doses administrated at state facilities to almost 5 million, which means about 91 per cent of Victorians aged 12 and over have been fully immunised against the virus.

More than 25,000 close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are isolating across Victoria.

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