First case of Omicron variant of coronavirus confirmed in Ukraine

18 December 2021, 10:18 AM

The first case of the Omicron novel coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Ukraine, Health Minister Viktor Liashko wrote on Facebook on Dec. 18.

“The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529-like) was identified by whole-genome sequencing at Ukraine’s Public Health Center during the night,” he said.

The infected individual had recently returned from the United Arab Emirates and is currently undergoing treatment, the minister said. He said an epidemiological investigation into the case has been launched, and contact tracing procedures have also been implemented.

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Liashko called on Ukrainians to get vaccinated and comply with the current anti-epidemic measures.

“If possible, avoid traveling abroad to regions where the circulation of the Omicron variant is dominant,” he said.

 What do we know about Omicron?

The Omicron coronavirus variant (B.1.1.529) was first reported in South Africa on Nov. 24. The virus spread quickly throughout South Africa’s most populous province, Gauteng. Cases of Omicron have since been recorded in 77 countries.

The United Nations World Health Organization says the Omicron variant is likely to have spread throughout the world, with experts on Nov. 26 designating the Omicron variant as being “of concern” due to its high transmissibility.

The new variant may also prove to be more resistant to currently developed vaccines, and jeopardize efforts to quell the pandemic.

At the same time, it is not yet clear whether the Omicron variant produces more severe symptoms, or is simply more infectious.

Dozens of countries have already announced travel bans from southern Africa, including Ukraine.

However, the WHO believes that “blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread (of Omicron).”

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