Danish health authority confirms Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Denmark

Denmark became the latest European country to confirm cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron on Sunday.

Danish health authorities said they had recorded two cases in travelers from South Africa.

It comes after the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom and Belgium also announced that they had detected cases of the new strain of coronavirus.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said that while his country still has no confirmed cases, “it is likely that there are currently cases in circulation.”

At a press conference on Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a “race against time” was underway to address the Omicron variant.

The Dutch public health authority confirmed on Sunday that 13 people who arrived in the Netherlands on flights from South Africa on Friday have so far tested positive for the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus.

The 61 people who tested positive for the virus on Friday after arriving on the last two flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport before a flight ban was established were immediately isolated while sequencing was underway to establish whether they had the new variant.

The institute of public health said in a statement that tests were continuing on the samples.

Most of the 61 people who tested positive were placed in isolation at a hotel near the airport, while a small number were allowed to sit outside of their home quarantine under strict conditions.

Health authorities appealed to all travelers who returned from southern Africa last week to get tested and set up a testing center at Schiphol airport for Dutch citizens returning from the region. The tests are voluntary and travelers can wait for the results in isolation at home.

The UK announced that a third case of Omicron was detected on Sunday.

The country had initially reported two confirmed cases that, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, were “linked and there is a connection to travel to southern Africa.”

Infections of the new variant, which preliminary evidence suggests could be highly communicable and more resistant to current treatment, including vaccines, prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten entry requirements.

“We are not going to prevent people from traveling, but we will require that anyone entering the UK undergo a PCR test at the end of the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they have a negative result.” Johnson said during a news conference Saturday afternoon.

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