#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 8°C Thursday 27 January 2022
Advertisement

Germany reports first two cases of Omicron variant

The positive cases, found in a group of around 600 passengers, will be examined to see if they are the new Omicron variant.

A poster with the words
A poster with the words "Vaccinate" hangs in the window of the Bavarian Vaccination Centre of the City of Munich at the City Hall in the city centre
Image: Peter Kneffel/DPA/PA Images

Updated Nov 27th 2021, 6:35 PM

TWO CASES OF the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Germany, regional officials have said.

The infected individuals were travellers who arrived at Munich airport from South Africa.

“Two suspected cases of the new virus variant Omicron classified by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern have been confirmed in Bavaria,” the health ministry of the southern state said in a statement.

The infected people pair arrived back in Germany on Wednesday and have been isolating at home since receiving positive PCR test results for coronavirus, the ministry added.

A ministry spokeswoman said that, after reading news reports about the new strain, the people “proactively sought an examination for the variant”.

She said that in addition, two foreign passengers who arrived in Bavaria on a flight from Cape Town on Friday had tested positive for coronavirus and authorities were now investigating whether they were also infected with the new strain.

The report from Bavaria came after health officials in the western German state of Hesse identified the country’s first suspected case of the new variant in a person who also returned from South Africa.

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

Final results of gene sequencing are expected “in the coming days”.

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 grew louder for mandatory coronavirus vaccinations and new shutdown measures.

Belgium said 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 Organisation has declared to be a variant of concern.

EU officials agreed on Friday to urge all 27 nations in the bloc to restrict travel from several southern African nations, a policy Germany has already announced.

Health authorities in the Netherlands have said that 61 passengers aboard two flights from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19 and the results were being examined for the new Omicron variant.

The positive cases are being quarantined in a hotel near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where the approximately 600 people on the planes from Johannesburg spent hours waiting yesterday.

“We now know that 61 of the results were positive and 531 negative,” the Dutch Health Authority (GGD) said in a statement.

All passengers who tested positive must stay in hotel quarantine for seven days if they show symptoms and for five days if they do not, the GGD said.

Passengers who tested negative, but are remaining in the Netherlands, are expected to isolate at home.

“We understand that people are frustrated by this,” the statement added, “people have just made a long trip with the idea that they will shortly be home,” it said.

“Instead just after landing, they are confronted with a situation we have never before experienced in the Netherlands, namely that people have to be tested at Schiphol and are forced to wait until they get a result.”

Those who do not live in the Netherlands can “continue their journey”, it said.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

Dutch national carrier KLM said it would continue to operate flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town “in compliance with the stricter protocol.”

This meant that entry was banned to all passengers except for Dutch and EU residents, who must show a negative PCR test and self-quarantine on arrival.

“KLM is taking the situation very seriously and will continue to prioritise the safety of passengers and crew,” the airline said in a statement, adding “it will therefore impose strict on-board safety requirements for passengers and crew.”

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (89)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel