Italy confirms first case of new Covid Omicron variant

Italy confirms first case of new Covid Omicron variant
Italian authorities are contacting passengers who arrived in Italy recently from risk areas. Photo: Filiippo Monteforte/AFP
Italy on Saturday said it had detected its first case of the new Omicron strain of Covid-19 in a traveller arriving from Mozambique earlier this month.

A top laboratory “sequenced the genome from the positive sample of a patient coming from Mozambique”, the national health institute said in a statement.

“The patient and the members of their family are in good health,” it added.

They said tests would soon determine whether anyone in the family residing in Caserta, in the southern region of Campania, had also been infected by the variant.

READ ALSO: Omicron variant poses ‘high to very high’ risk to Europe: EU health agency

Italy on Friday banned entry to all travellers who had been in seven countries in southern Africa in the past fortnight after the new variant was discovered there.

It also suspended flights from the region.

Italian authorities ordered anyone already in Italy who had travelled there in the past two weeks to immediately inform the authorities, get tested, isolate for 10 days, and then re-test at the end of that period.

The Caserta patient infected with the Omicron variant reportedly landed at Fiumicino on November 11th on a flight from South Africa, after travelling from Mozambique. At the time of departure the patient had no symptoms and had tested negative for Covid, Ansa writes.

READ ALSO: Italy bans arrivals from southern Africa over new Covid variant

Health authorities on Sunday were contacting passengers who had arrived in Italy in recent days from areas where the variant is thought to have spread, news agency Ansa reported.

Security sources at Rome Fiumicino Airport said “airline companies are required to deliver passenger lists and these are picked up directly, to then be subjected to the usual health checks”.

Italy has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of fatalities with more than 133,000 deaths reported since February 2020.

It has been recording more than 10,000 new cases daily in recent days.

On Wednesday, the government announced it would be accelerating the administration of booster shots and tighten health measures next month for those who are unvaccinated.

This includes incentivising vaccine uptake by increasing restrictions for those who have yet to get the vaccine with the so-called ‘Super green pass’.

The country’s Covid-19 green pass health certificate will no longer allow access to “non-essential” services including leisure and cultural venues unless the bearer is vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19.

In addition, some regions are set to see a return to ‘yellow zones’ under Italy’s four-tier system for coronavirus restrictions: ‘orange’ zones operate under a higher level of restrictions than yellow zones and ‘red’ zones are subject to the strictest requirements.


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