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Omicron variant was in Belgium weeks earlier than it was announced: Report

New scientific report shows omicron variant of coronavirus has been circulating since mid-November

Agnes Szucs   | 06.12.2021
Omicron variant was in Belgium weeks earlier than it was announced: Report

BRUSSELS

The new omicron variant of the coronavirus was present in Belgium in mid-November, weeks earlier than the first case was confirmed in South Africa or officially reported in Belgium, local media reported on Monday.


A teenager from the East Flanders region of the country was infected with the omicron variant weeks ago, according to the latest analysis of the Flemish Health Agency revealed by De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad, and the Gazet van Antwerpen newspapers.


The report confirmed that several students from a high school in the town of Melle got the new variant from a member of the Belgian water polo team who had returned from a match in Brno, Czech Republic in mid-November.


The scientific evidence suggests that the omicron variant arrived in Belgium considerably earlier than authorities previously assumed.


The South African government confirmed on Nov. 25 the existence of a new heavily mutated variant of the coronavirus that spread faster than the previous variants.


Belgium was the first European country to announce on Nov. 26. that the new variant was found in an unvaccinated international traveler returning from a trip from Egypt.


On the same day, EU countries agreed to suspend all flights from the southern African region in a bid to stem the spread of the omicron variant.


According to Belgian health authorities, there are currently 9 people infected with the omicron variant in the country.


Another set of tightened COVID-19 measures entered into force in the country on Monday after the Belgian federal government decided on Friday for the third time in three weeks to introduce stricter rules amid the rising number of infections and hospitalizations across the country.

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