COVID: Omicron variant 'likely' already in Germany, says minister

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COVID: Omicron variant 'likely' already in Germany, says minister
© Provided by dw.com Passengers have their temperatures taken at Frankfurt International Airport

A minister in the western German state of Hesse said Saturday that the potentially highly transmissible omicron variant of COVID-19 has “very likely already arrived” in Germany.

Kai Klose, who is the Minister of State for Social Affairs and Integration, wrote on Twitter that a traveler returning from South Africa was found to be infected with “several mutations typical of omicron.”

He said health authorities had a “high level of suspicion” that the passenger had contracted the omicron variant.

He added that that full sequencing is underway and that the person has been quarantined.

“If you have returned from southern Africa in the last week, limit your contacts and get tested,” Klose warned his followers.

If confirmed, it would be the first case of the omicron variant in Germany.

Klose gave no further details on the passenger or which airport the infected person had arrived at. Frankfurt International airport, Germany’s busiest airport, is located in the state of Hesse.

Omicron variant a major concern

Germany is bracing for the arrival of the omicron variant, which was recently discovered in southern Africa, and is believed to be more highly transmissible than other variants.

Neighboring Belgium has already recorded one case of omicron.

The Netherlands says it is carrying out further tests on 61 passengers who arrived on two flights from South Africa on Friday and tested positive for the coronavirus.

Health authorities fear that some or all of them may have contracted the omicron variant

The World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have both expressed serious concern at the variant’s large number of mutations.

They say the mutations may significantly reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and increase the risk of reinfection.

On Saturday, Germany declared South Africa a virus variant area and airlines are only permitted to carry German nationals back to Germany. They must then quarantine for 14 days, even if they have been vaccinated.

Author: Nik Martin

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