First case of Omicron variant confirmed in Italy

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The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been identified in a citizen from Italy's southern Campania region, who returned to Milan from Mozambique "some days ago," Italian news agency ANSA reported Sunday.

The patient, an employee at an international company, "had been vaccinated with two doses," ANSA reported.

On Sunday, the Campania region said in a statement that a "citizen returning from southern Africa has tested positive, as did his family of five people ... All his contacts have been immediately placed in isolation as a precautionary measure."

"The genome was sequenced at ... Sacco Hospital in Milan from a positive sample taken from an individual coming from Mozambique. The patient and his family contacts are in good health," said the National Institute of Health on Saturday.

The World Health Organization declared on Friday the latest variant B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2 to be "of concern," its most serious level, and officially gave it the Greek name Omicron. The WHO has asked countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to fight the new variant.

On Friday, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed a travel ban on people who have visited South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi in the past 14 days. 

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