By Recep Sakar
MELBOURNE, Australia (AA) – New Zealand's health authorities on Thursday confirmed the country’s first case of the omicron variant of coronavirus.
"Whole genome sequencing has detected New Zealand’s first case of the omicron variant," the Health Ministry said, adding that the person arrived in Auckland from Germany via Dubai on Dec. 10.
The person is fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and is currently serving managed isolation in Christchurch, it added.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that while the arrival of a new variant is "concerning," New Zealand is well placed to manage omicron cases.
“We know how rapidly Omicron has spread globally, so it’s been important to make sure every border case detected undergoes urgent genome sequencing,” he said. “We have been doing everything we can to prepare for omicron and to keep it out of the community since the variant was first identified.”
With 90% of the eligible population now double-dosed, and the booster program underway, New Zealanders are well protected, Bloomfield said.
The country has reported 13,238 COVID-19 cases and 48 related deaths.
The press release said contact tracing is underway to identify passengers who were on the international and domestic flights with the infected.
The World Health Organization, which declared omicron a variant of concern late November, has warned the new strain is spreading at an unprecedented rate and "is probably in most countries."
EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said omicron could be new dominant variant in Europe by early next year.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan