Spain announced on Monday that the first case of the Covid-19 variant Omicron had been discovered in the country.
A 51-year-old man who had arrived at Madrid Airport from South Africa travelling via Amsterdam had tested positive for the strain, the government confirmed in a statement.
The microbiology department at Madrid's Gregorio Marañón Hospital confirmed on Monday afternoon, November 29 that the first case had been found in the traveller from South Africa.
"It was confirmed today by sequencing. We have managed to set up an ultra-fast procedure that allows us to have the result in the same day. The patient is fine," they confirmed in a tweet.
“The patient has light symptoms and is undergoing quarantine,” the statement added.
Noticia de última hora:— Microbiología e Infecciosas Gregorio Marañón (@Mic_Inf_Maranon) November 29, 2021
El servicio de microbiología del Hospital Gregorio Marañón de Madrid comunica la primera confirmación de variante ómicron en España. Se trata de Un viajero procedente de Sudáfrica.
The World Health Organization has now listed the Omicron strain as a “variant of concern” with many countries around the world tightening their border controls from those travelling from Southern Africa and other countries where the variant has been discovered.
Other European nations have also reported their first cases including two in Germany, one in Belgium and Italy and two cases identified in the United Kingdom.
Over the weekend, Spain announced that anyone over the age of 12 travelling in from the UK would need to be fully vaccinated with the restrictions coming into force from Wednesday, December 1.
Israel, where the new variant has already been found, confirmed on Sunday evening that they would be banning all travellers from entering the country.
At this time, scientists are unsure as to how potent the latest variant is and what impact the current vaccines will have on it. The WHO has said that it could take a number of weeks to ascertain how transmissible it is and the implications it will have on the vaccination campaigns.
Current Situation in Spain
Spain has seen a sharp increase in Covid cases in recent weeks placing further pressure on hospitals.
On the evening of Monday, November 29, the country’s Ministry of Health published its latest figures showing that the incidence rate now stands at 119.02 per 100,000 residents.
This is in comparison to the figure reported just two weeks ago where there were only 82.02 cases per 100,000.
The number of patients currently receiving treatment in the country’s hospital has rocketed as a result with a total of 3,780 needing hospital care compared to just 2,180 two weeks previously.
Intensive care facilities are also under increased strain with 673 receiving ICU treatment compared to 427 just a fortnight ago.
The latest published figures from the ministry mean that there has now been a total of 5,153,923 recorded cases.
A further 53 deaths were registered, bringing the total number of fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic to 88,008.