A first suspected case of the new Omicron variant has been detected in the Czech Republic.
The suspected sample which is undergoing further tests for final confirmation, is that of a woman from Liberec who recently returned from Namibia.
“There is a high level of suspicion and the person has been isolated. The complete sequencing is still pending at the current time,” said Health Minister Adam Vojtěch on Twitter.
If confirmed, this would make it the second case of Omicron detected in the European Union after Belgian authorities announced on Friday that a traveller returning from Egypt had tested positive for the variant.
Dutch authorities are meanwhile sequencing samples from 61 passengers from two planes returning from South Africa on Friday and who tested positive for COVID-19.
EU member states (including the Czech Republic) on Friday closed their borders to travellers from seven Southern African countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe — because of the variant.
The decision came hours before the World Health Organisation (WHO) gave the variant, first known as B.1.1.529, its name and labelled it a “variant of concern”.
The United Nations’ health agency stressed that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of infection” with experts also worried that the variant’s “large number of mutations” make it more immune to current treatment, including vaccines.
Other countries to have imposed travel restrictions with southern African countries include Canada, the UK and the US.
Státní zdravotní ústav dnes informoval, že v ČR máme podezření na novou mutaci koronaviru Omikron. Nyní laboratoře provádí celogenomovou sekvenci. Teprve pak bude možné s jistotou říct, zda u nás tento typ viru je nebo zatím nikoliv.
— Adam Vojtěch (@adamvojtechano) November 27, 2021