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Omicron could already be loose in NSW with eighth case detected - but could that be good news? 

The Omicron Covid variant could already be loose in NSW running rampant and undetected, health authorities admit.

An eighth case of the new strain in the state was confirmed on Thursday, this time from someone who has not been in southern Africa.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was so far no evidence of community transmission in Australia, but he wouldn't be surprised if there was.

'It is reassuring it has not appeared to spread in the community, but as health minister I seriously question whether we already have it out in the community,' he said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (pictured) says Omicron, so far, 'is showing up in a very mild way'

However, he said the effects so far recorded in patients with Omicron were mild, despite the variant appearing to be more infectious.

'We know it is highly transmissible, but the good news to date, generally it is showing up in a very mild way with the individuals who have it,' he said.

There are questions over whether Omicron is more dangerous and could overwhelm hospitals, or just more transmissible and able to replace stronger variants. 

Hamish McCallum of Queensland's Griffith University wrote for The Conversation that 'it is very common for viruses to become less virulent (that is, cause less severe disease) once they become established in a population.

'The classic example is myxomatosis, which killed 99 per cent of rabbits when first introduced into Australia, but which now causes much lower mortality,' he wrote.

Professor McCallum wrote that some experts predicted Covid would become less severe as it settles into a predictable pattern of infections in a particular location.

'It’s possible the Omicron variant may be the first step in this process,' Mr McCallum said.

An eighth case of the Omicron Covid strain has been recorded in NSW, taking Australia's tally to nine (pictured Sydneysiders in the CBD on Wednesday)

Australia has nine confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, with eight in NSW and one in the Northern Territory. 

One of the NSW cases arrived on flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney on November 23 and is isolating in hotel quarantine with their family.

Two members of their household have also tested positive to Covid-19 with urgent genomic testing underway to confirm if it's the Omicron strain of the virus.

Authorities are scrambling to contact passengers on that flight from Doha.

Passengers have been ordered to immediately get tested and isolate until they receive further health advice.

'These travellers have not been in southern Africa and NSW Health is concerned transmission may have occurred on this flight,' an alert said. 

The infected traveller and their household members are isolating in special health accommodation. 

Mantra Services Apartments in the Chatswood suburb of Sydney has also been identified as a possible exposure site between November 23 and November 30. 

Anyone who was at the venue on any of those eight days is considered a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until they test negative.

The latest case comes after a Sydney man in his 40s and Central Coast woman in her 30s who arrived on a separate Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Sydney last Thursday were also confirmed to have the strain.

The latest infected case arrived on flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney on November 23 pictured a Qatar Airline places)

The fully vaccinated woman attended multiple outlets at two shopping centres across Sydney before travelling by car to the Central Coast, where she also attended several more venues.

The Cabramatta man was also infectious in the community for up to six days and attended Chemist Warehouse in Liverpool on Monday between 8.10pm and 8.15pm.

Anyone who was there at that time is a casual contact and is required to get tested and isolate until they get a negative result. 

'Clearly the community in Cabramatta are on high alert, but I stress the gentleman in his 40s had not been out and about at many facilities. So at this stage there has been no evidence of further transmission in the area,' Mr Hazzard said.  

Health authorities in NSW are on high alert for the new 'variant of concern' after the state recorded its seventh case of Omicron(pictured, a drive-through testing clinic in Liverpool in Sydney's south-west)

The infectious man had been living in Nigeria for six months before he returned home last Thursday, three days before NSW Health directed travellers from the region to go into isolation. 

All passengers on flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney on November 25 are considered close contacts and have been ordered to get tested and immediately isolate for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Mr Hazzard said 500 previously tested swabs of travellers who had returned to NSW since November 22 had been lab tested to ensure they did not contain the Omicron strain.

None of them proved to be the new variant but one requires further investigation.

The minister added authorities are on high alert for the new 'variant of concern' but are happy with the low number of Omicron cases so far.

All 271 new Covid cases recorded in NSW on Thursday were of the Delta strain. 

The Omicron variant was identified in South Africa on November 11 and has since spread to countries around the world including the UK, the US and Australia.

Another case of the Omicron Covid variant has been detected in New South Wales

An overseas traveller isolating at the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory tested positive to the strain earlier this week.

The man had travelled from South Africa on an international repatriation flight that arrived on November 25.

Travellers arriving in NSW who have visited South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini or Malawi within a 14 day period must stay in hotel quarantine for two weeks - regardless of vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated travellers who have returned from overseas but not been in those countries can leave isolation after 72 hours if they test negative. 

Fines for not complying with health orders have been raised to $10,000 for companies and $5,000 for individuals in response to Omicron fears.

Under the federal rules, passengers already on flights to Australia who have been in those countries over the past 14 days will be forced into two-week hotel quarantine.

A woman aged in her 30s  went on a two day shopping and fast food spree before she discovered she had the new Omicron strain at the weekend.

NSW HEALTH'S OMICRON EXPOSURE SITE LIST

 Top Ryde

Coles, Top Ryde Shopping Centre Devlin Street, Ryde

Parramatta

Target Parramatta, Westfield Parramatta 159-175 Church Street

Friday 26 November

Parramatta

H&M Parramatta, Westfield Parramatta 159-175 Church Street

Parramatta

The Athlete’s Foot, Westfield Parramatta 159-175 Church Street

Parramatta

JD Sports, Westfield Parramatta 159-175 Church Street

Parramatta

Rebel Sports, Westfield Parramatta, 159-175 Church Street

 North Wyong

IGA, North Wyong

34-38 Cutler Drive

Wyong

Pizza Hut, Wyong

300 Pacific Highway

North Wyong

KFC North, Wyong

300 Pacific Highway

Wadalba

Woolworths, Wadalba

1 Figtree Boulevard

Toukley

Aldi, Toukley

127 Evans Road

Saturday 27 November

Liverpool 

 Chemist Warehouse, The Grove

Units 3-6, 18 Orange Grove Road

Monday 29 November