The first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been confirmed in Mexico, the deputy health minister said on Friday, sparking concerns a new spike in infections could follow, although the infected person is not gravely ill.
The Omicron patient is a 51-year-old who traveled from South Africa, according to a post on Twitter from Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, who added that the person has presented only mild symptoms so far.
“Their likelihood of recovery is favorable,” wrote Lopez-Gatell.
The Mexican case follows the discovery https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/brazil-alert-after-third-case-omicron-variant-2021-12-01 of the variant in Brazil earlier this week, its first known appearance in Latin America, a region particularly hard hit by the pandemic over the past two years.
Brazilian health authorities confirmed Omicron in three persons who had traveled to South Africa and Ethiopia.
In Mexico, the infected person arrived at the Mexican capital on Nov. 21, and six days later presented symptoms of the highly-contagious respiratory disease, according to a health ministry statement.
The patient was treated at a private hospital in Mexico City on Nov. 29, and is now in “voluntary preventative isolation,” the statement said.
Lopez-Gatell, the public face of Mexico’s COVID-19 policies, said closing borders was not a useful tool to contain coronavirus variants, and he said people should not overreact to the presence of new virus variants circulating in the country.
“We call on all to stay calm and keep applying measures to avoid the spread of infection,” he said, citing vaccination and the use of face coverings.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also attempted to tamp down concern over the Omicron variant at his regular morning news conference on Friday.
“One of the things about this variant, as of right now, is that it isn’t (more) damaging, it isn’t more dangerous than other variants,” he said.
On Friday, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist urged https://www.reuters.com/world/omicron-marches-biden-prepares-us-grim-winter-2021-12-03 people not to panic over the emergence of the variant, and said it was too early to say if vaccines would need to be reworked.