China announces the first case of the Omicron variant

China announced that it had discovered the first case of the highly contagious Omicron virus, the coronavirus, state media reported on Monday.

Authorities in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin detected the variant in a person returning from abroad, without specifying which country he was in, according to the Tianjin Daily.

The results of the examinations of the patient, who did not show positive symptoms, came on Thursday, and additional tests confirmed “the detection (…) of the Omicron variant,” according to the newspaper, which adds that this patient was transferred to the hospital and placed in isolation.

The world’s most populous country is looking forward to new outbreaks as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

Health officials have ordered stricter protocols in coastal cities such as Tianjin, located about 140 kilometers from the capital.

The World Health Organization said on Sunday that the Omicron variant appears to spread faster than the Delta variant, causing less severe symptoms and making vaccines less effective, stressing that data is still very incomplete.

China has been able to significantly reduce cases of COVID through a combination of border controls, massive testing campaigns, and targeted lockdowns.

The country recorded 101 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including 21 imported cases, according to the National Health Agency.

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