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Germany announces first ‘likely’ new Covid strain case

The person has been isolated at home

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BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany on Saturday identified the country’s first suspected case of the new Covid-19 variant, in a person who returned from South Africa.

“The Omicron variant has with strong likelihood already arrived in Germany,” Kai Klose, social affairs minister in the western state of Hesse, tweeted, referring to the strain first detected in southern Africa.

Klose said that tests late Friday on the traveler revealed “several mutations typical of Omicron.”

“As there is this strong suspicion, the person has been isolated at home. The full sequencing is still to be completed.”

His ministry later said results were expected “in the coming days.”

The person had arrived in Germany on 21 November at Frankfurt international airport, the country’s busiest, the ministry said in a statement.

The person, who was fully vaccinated against coronavirus, developed symptoms “in the course of the week” and was then tested.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be sworn in as successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel early next month, stressed Saturday that his coalition would do “everything necessary” to fight “corona and Omicron.”

“There is nothing which can’t be considered,” he tweeted, as calls grow louder for mandatory coronavirus vaccinations.

The suspect case in Germany follows Belgium saying on Friday it had detected the first announced case in Europe of the new Covid-19 variant, in an unvaccinated person returning from abroad.

Meanwhile Britain on Saturday confirmed its first two cases of the new Omicron strain, which the World Health Organization has declared to be a variant of concern.

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