COVID19: Omicron arrives in Cyprus

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Cyprus has become the latest country where the highly infectious Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant, has been detected.

The Health Ministry said Friday it had identified three cases of the Omicron variant in Limassol.

“All incidents have a travel history and were located in the district of Limassol. None of the three cases requires hospitalisation,” the ministry said in a brief statement.

The Institute of Neurology and Genetics had carried out sequencing. The ministry provided no other details.

The Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations, and the number of patients needing hospitalisation is likely to rise as it spreads, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

The UK Health Security Agency said: “If the growth rate and doubling time continue at the rate we have seen in the last two weeks, we expect to see at least 50% of COVID-19 cases to be caused by the Omicron variant in the next two to four weeks.”

In Cyprus, epidemiologists estimated that the arrival of the Omicron variant could triple daily COVID-19 cases.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, epidemiologist Dr Michalis Voniatis said that while cases seem to have stabilised at around 500-600 a day, cases could explode to 1,500.

“With the arrival of the Omicron variant, it is quite possible to see these figures.

“If we calculate that 5% are likely to get seriously ill, then the pressure on the health system will be significant,” said the epidemiologist.

Omicron is thought to be more transmissible than the delta variant, but scientists need more evidence to see if it is more potent in causing serious illness.

Everyone arriving at the airport must take a PCR test costing €15.