Suspected Omicron case found in Germany

Germany has confirmed that it has detected a suspected case of the Omicron Covid variant.

Suspected Omicron case found in Germany
© AP Frankfurt

A minister in the German state of Hesse said on Saturday a case had very probably arrived in Germany.

“Last night several Omicron-typical mutations were found in a traveller returning from South Africa,” tweeted Kai Klose, social affairs minister in the western German state that is home to Frankfurt airport.

He added that a full sequencing of the variant was being carried out.

Countries are racing to contain the new variant, which has a large number of mutations meaning it could be resistant to vaccines.

Experts also believe Omicron could be even more transmissible than previous variants.

On Saturday, Dutch health authorities said they had detected Covid in 61 passengers who flew in from South Africa on Friday.

Suspected Omicron case found in Germany
© Provided by Evening Standard Passengers waiting on their coronavirus disease test results at Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (via REUTERS)

They are conducting further tests to see if any are infected with the Omicron variant.

The passengers were kept separated from other travellers and those that tested positive are being kept in isolation at a hotel near the airport, officials said.

The UK government has added six south African countries to the red travel list in a bid to stop the variant reaching Britain.

Travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botwana, Lesotho and Eswatini will not be able to enter the UK unless they are UK or Irish nationals or UK residents.

Those who are entitled to enter will need to pay for hotel quarantine.

The first European case of Omicron was detected in a woman in Belgium on Friday.

The woman was not vaccinated, nor had she been infected in the past, and so had no immunity to the virus.

Suspected Omicron case found in Germany
© Provided by Evening Standard Passengers queue for flights at Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg (AP)

She did not suffer severely and had sought a test after suffering flu-like symptoms 11 days after a trip to Egypt via Turkey.

The woman had no connection with South Africa or any other country in the region raising concerns that just banning travel from Africa will not go far enough.

The US and the EU have blocked flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Iran and Brazil have also introduced travel restrictions.

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