New Russian COVID strain detected in Qld hotel

Queensland Health has confirmed 74 people who arrived into the state from Qatar last month have been forced to extend their quarantine by five days after some were found to have a new Russian variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The Courier-Mail understands four people on one flight from Doha have tested positive to the variant, resulting in health experts deciding to extend the quarantine period for the 74 travellers as a precaution.


All were on Qatar Airways flight QR898, which arrived into Brisbane on February 17.

A letter sent by the Metro North Hospital and Health Service to the travellers in hotel quarantine said: "Several cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection have been identified among passengers on this flight and these infections have occurred late in the 14-day quarantine period.

"Some cases have been found to have variant B11317 (Russian variant). Whilst this is not considered a variant of concern, little is known about the B11317 strain.

"Queensland Health therefore requires all passengers and crew members on the flight to remain in hotel quarantine until March 8, 2021 and to undertake additional COVID-19 testing."

The passengers were told they would not be charged for the extra five days in hotel quarantine.

"We acknowledge that this news will be disappointing and understand that you would have been looking forward to leaving quarantine," the letter said.

"We ask for your patience and understanding.

"We also acknowledge that some guests have onward flights and accommodation booked and that refunds may not be available.

"Unavoidable costs incurred as a result of your additional quarantine can be claimed for reimbursement through Queensland Health."

Queensland has reported no new cases of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the past 24 hours.

That takes the state's total tally of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 1335, including 13 that remain active.

NSW in the lead as Victoria and Qld fall behind in vaccine rollout targets: New data on Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout has revealed performance on a state by state basis has varied greatly during the first week of the Pfizer distribution effort.


Originally published as New Russian COVID strain detected in Qld hotel