Queensland health officials investigate mystery coronavirus strain on cargo ship off Sunshine Coast

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Queensland health officials are working to determine the mystery strain of COVID-19 infecting the crew of a cargo ship anchored off the Sunshine Coast.

The MV Sofrana Surville was blocked from docking in Brisbane after New Zealand warned it could be carrying a new mutated strain of the virus.

Initial testing found two of the Sofrana’s 19 crew members were infected with COVID-19 and they were transferred to a mainland hospital on Friday.

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Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the New Zealand government had asked Queensland Health to undertake genomic sequencing on the suspected new strain.

“Given (the cases) have come off a ship that has been in other countries, it’s highly likely to be a different strain … (to) the current strains within Australia,” he told reporters on Friday.

He said the additional testing would take about a week.

The Sofrana left New Zealand earlier in the month with fresh crew from the Philippines before stopping at Noumea in New Caledonia and then sailing for Brisbane.

New Zealand requested Australian health officials perform the additional testing after an engineer who had previously worked on the ship tested positive in Auckland.

Mr Miles on Saturday said zero new cases of COVID-19 had been uncovered inside Queensland, meaning the state still had six active cases.

It has been 44 days since the last locally-acquired case in Queensland.

Dr Miles on Friday said it was likely an announcement would be made about Queensland’s border reopening to NSW late next week.

Asked when Victorians would be free to travel to Queensland, Dr Miles said it would be after health restrictions in that state were eased and several incubation periods had been completed.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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