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A new coronavirus strain has been discovered among returned travellers arriving in Queensland from Papua New Guinea. 

PNG is gripped by a coronavirus crisis with cases spiking out of control across the country, with very low testing rates meaning the problem is even worse.

The Queensland Health Department is aware of 64 people in hotel quarantine with the newly-identified B.1.466.2 strain after arriving or transiting through PNG.

PNG is currently experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases ravaging across the country, despite low testing rates (Pictured: Policeman orders a man to wear a mask in PNG)

PNG is currently experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases ravaging across the country, despite low testing rates (Pictured: Policeman orders a man to wear a mask in PNG)

PNG is currently experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases ravaging across the country, despite low testing rates (Pictured: Policeman orders a man to wear a mask in PNG)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Dr John Gerrard look on as registered nurse Zoe Park receives her second COVID-19 vaccine at Gold Coast University Hospital

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Dr John Gerrard look on as registered nurse Zoe Park receives her second COVID-19 vaccine at Gold Coast University Hospital

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Dr John Gerrard look on as registered nurse Zoe Park receives her second COVID-19 vaccine at Gold Coast University Hospital

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is a rapidly-evolving situation and as the pandemic is ongoing, we have continued to see new variants emerge, such as the UK and South African variants,’ Queensland Health said. 

‘Currently, the variant most commonly detected in travellers from Papua New Guinea is the B.1.466.2 lineage, which is not a lineage of concern.

‘This is the new name for the specific B.1 strain mentioned as circulating in PNG.’

Australia has already committed 8,480 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and are considering sending more.  

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson said the government was aware of the urgency of the situation.

‘The possibility of some of Australia’s domestically produced stocks being able to be used for this purpose is certainly something that is live but yet formally to be decided by government,’ she said on Thursday.

Hotel Quarantine worker Zuby Daryau is being vaccinated during a rollout of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine at STARS Metro North Health facility, in Brisbane

Hotel Quarantine worker Zuby Daryau is being vaccinated during a rollout of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine at STARS Metro North Health facility, in Brisbane

Hotel Quarantine worker Zuby Daryau is being vaccinated during a rollout of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine at STARS Metro North Health facility, in Brisbane

Pharmaceutical giant CSL is contracted to manufacture 50 million AstraZeneca doses in Melbourne during the year.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne indicated cabinet would consider the issue of sending more Australian-made vaccines.

‘That is something which must be on the table,’ she said.

Australia has also pledged to redirect one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine ordered from Europe to PNG.

But there are doubts those vials will ever leave Europe where countries are desperately trying to hang on to domestic stocks.

Source: DailyMail AU

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