Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Italy

Italy’s national health institute says the coronavirus variant was detected in a traveler arriving from Mozambique  

File Photo
File Photo

One case of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant has been detected in Italy.

The heavily-mutated COVID-19 variant has been declared to be “of concern” by the World Health Organisation. Belgium was the first European country to report a case of the new variant, first identified in South Africa.

The National Health Institute said the variant was detected in a traveler arriving from Mozambique.

Belgium, Germany and the UK have also confirmed cases of the coronavirus variant.

On Saturday, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the cases were found in Chelmsford and in Nottingham. He said the two cases are linked, and the connection has been traced to southern Africa.

After an emergency meeting on Friday, WHO said the variant had a large number of mutations, and early evidence suggested an increased reinfection risk.

Omicron was first reported to the WHO by South Africa on 24 November but the virus has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

Malta was one of the first EU countries to ban travel to and from six southern African states on Friday. Later on, the European Commission recommended an EU-wide travel ban with southern African countries of South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.