Italy on Saturday confirmed its first case of the Omicron covid-19 variant, a heavily mutated strain of the virus recently detected in southern Africa. An Italian national returning from Mozambique tested positive on arrival in Milan.
The Italian businessman – vaccinated with two doses – landed a few days ago at Malpensa from Mozambique, ANSA reported. A sequence attributable to the new Coronavirus variant was identified on a Campania . The Italian ‘patient zero’ was subjected to a swab when he was barred in the Lombardy airport.
Five family members, including two school-age children, have since tested positive, the Italian news agency LaPresse said. All are isolating in the Naples suburb of Caserta, where they are resident, in good condition with light symptoms.
Sacco hospital in Milan confirmed the Omicron variant. Italy’s health ministry is urging all regions to increase its tracing of the virus and sequencing.
Entry restrictions tightened
In the meantime, the Ministry of Health tightened its entry restrictions. It blocked flights from 7 countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – in southern Africa. The Ministry is urging regions to strengthen the tracking of passengers arriving from areas at risk.
The governor of Lazio, Nicola Zingaretti, asked for “immediate border control measures and to evaluate further choices to contain the flows of entry to Italy”. The names of the boarding lists of residents in the region who landed in Fiumicino in the last 15 days from the no-go zones were also requested. This in order to submit them to screening.
Italian task force to study new variant
Italy’s top infectious diseases hospital, the Spallanzani in Rome, announced a task force to study the new variant on Friday. The Italian health minister signed an order banning anyone who has been in the 7 southern African countries named above in the last 14 days.