First case of Omicron variant confirmed by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia confirmed its first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday quoting a Health Ministry source.

The case was a Saudi national who has arrived from a North African country, the ministry said without giving further details.

“With reference to what has already been announced on the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in some countries, and detecting movement of those infected to other countries, a source at the Ministry of Health said that a case of the Omicron variant was detected in Saudi Arabia in a citizen arriving back from a North African country,” SPA said.

Travellers walk near an electronic flight notice board displaying cancelled flights at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. PHILL MAGAKOE/Getty Images

It said authorities had isolated the person and people who were in contact with them.

“An epidemiological investigation has started and the case was sent to quarantine, where accredited health procedures were followed,” the ministry source said.

The ministry urged people to complete their vaccination and ordered travelers to respect self-isolation and testing rules.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that the heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant was likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have “severe consequences” in some places.

Omicron was first reported on Nov. 24 in southern Africa, where infections have risen steeply. It has since spread to more than a dozen countries, many of which have imposed travel restrictions to try to seal themselves off.

Sources: SPA, Saudi Gazette.

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