Spain detects first Omicron variant case, Covid-19 infections rise

People queueing to get Covid-19 jabs outside a vaccination centre in Madrid on Nov 24, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (REUTERS) - Spain has detected its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a 51-year-old man who arrived from South Africa on Sunday (Nov 28) after a layover in Amsterdam, Madrid's regional health authority said on Monday as Spain's overall infection rate rose.

The microbiology unit at Madrid's Gregorio Maranon hospital, which sequenced and confirmed the new variant, added in a separate post on Twitter that the patient was in fair condition with mild symptoms.

The latest outbreak, first reported in southern Africa, caused a global flurry of border restrictions and flight route suspensions over the weekend amid fears of a return to uncontrolled contagion.

The heavily mutated Omicron variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have "severe consequences" in some places, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

Spain's rolling 14-day Covid-19 infection rate rose to 199 per 100,000 on Monday from 172 last Friday, with nearly 23,000 cases detected over the weekend, health ministry data showed, but the rate remains lower than in countries such as Austria, Germany or the Netherlands.

Spain has registered 5,153,923 infections and 88,008 deaths since the pandemic began. The death toll rose by 53 from last Friday.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.