Australian authorities on Friday said they had detected the highly infectious Delta” COVID-19 variant (also known as the B.1.617.2 strain) first identified in India in the latest outbreak in Melbourne.
The Delta variant had been classified by the World Health Organisation as among the four COVID-19 variants of concern due to evidence that they spread more easily. The Delta variant has been attributed to the recent devastating outbreak of cases in India.
“It is a variant of significant concern,” Victoria state chief health officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne. “The fact that it is a variant different to other cases it means it is not related, in terms of transmission, with these cases.”
Health Minister Martin Foley said that four new cases included three members of a family linked to the West Melbourne outbreak—two parents and a child—the Herald Sun reported. The fourth case was also of a child.
Melbourne has recorded over 60 cases in the recent outbreak.
However, Sutton said the new variant was not linked to sequenced COVID-19 infections in Australia from hotel quarantine or elsewhere.
“It is a concern that it is not linked to other cases but we are chasing down all those primary case contacts… and looking into where it might have been acquired,” Sutton said.