Australian health authorities in the state of Queensland are investigating how a fully vaccinated man in the far north city of Cairns contracted a CCP virus Delta variant that doesn’t cluster with any known strain in Queensland.
The man, who works as a marine pilot navigating vessels over the Great Barrier Reef, was fully vaccinated with Pfizer in March when Maritime Safety Queensland moved to innoculate all marine pilots, who were deemed at very high risk.
After receiving whole-genome sequence results, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young believes the man acquired the virus while going about his work as a marine pilot.
“It is not the Delta strain that is circulating in Brisbane and it hasn’t clustered with any other known case of Delta in Queensland,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
Experts are now investigating whether his infection is linked with any other clusters in Australia or overseas.
The marine pilot had very high CT values, which Young said meant he had “very little virus” in his body. However, she warned that there was enough to potentially infect others.
Queensland Health officials later clarified that the man was not sick but had developed very specific symptoms on July 31, such as loss of smell.
His wife and child have tested negative and are isolating at home for 14 days.
Queensland Health has stood up nine COVID-19 testing centres in Cairns for locals and they are open with extended hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. A pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic has been set up outside the Cairns hospital for walk-ins.
A number of local exposure sites have been listed online. However, Young said the chances Cairns would go into a lockdown were “very, very low.”
The man is only the second locally-acquired case reported in Cairns in recent months. The previous case was a woman who had also been fully vaccinated with Pfizer.
Cairns exposure sites (as of publishing):
- Qantas Flight QF708: 9.17 a.m. – 11.15 a.m., July 29
- Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant: 12.45 p.m. – 2.15 p.m., July 29
- 1300SMILES Dental Practice at Cairns Central Shopping Centre: 8.40 a.m. – 10.30 a.m., July 30
- Fitzroy Island Aventures (ferry to Fitzroy Island): 9 a.m. – 10 a.m., July 31
- Cairns Airport baggage carousel: 11.15 a.m. – 11.45 a.m., July 29
- Cairns Airport (general): 11.15 a.m. – 11.15 a.m., July 29
- Cairns Central Shopping Centre: 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., July 29
- JB HIFI, Cairns Central: 12.10 p.m. – 12.50 p.m., July 29
- Cairns Central Shopping Centre: 8 a.m. – 10.30 a.m., July 30
- Blu Marlin Bistro, Pier Cairns: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m., July 31
- Reef Fleet Terminal Pier Cairns: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m., July 31