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Australia detects first Covid Omicron infections

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SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Health officials in Australia said Sunday they had detected the Covid Omicron strain for the first time after testing two passengers from southern Africa who flew into Sydney.

The eastern state of New South Wales’ (NSW) health authority said it had conducted urgent genomic testing and confirmed the new strain was present in two passengers who landed in Sydney on Saturday.

Both passengers came from southern Africa and arrived in Australia on a Qatar Airways flight via Doha, NSW Health said in a statement.

They tested positive for Covid shortly after arriving, leading to an urgent analysis for possible infection by the heavily mutated Omicron strain.

“The two positive cases, who were asymptomatic, are in isolation in the special health accommodation. Both people are fully vaccinated,” NSW Health said.

Another 12 passengers from southern Africa in the same flight did not test positive for Covid but have been placed in quarantine, it said.

About 260 passengers and crew on the plane have also been told to isolate, the health authority said.

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