Riyadh: Saudi Arabia became the first nation in the Gulf Region to record the first case of Omicron on Wednesday. The Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in a citizen returning from North Africa, a health ministry official said.Also Read - IPL 2022 in South Africa? CSA Proposes BCCI Cheaper Hotels And Minimum Air Travel

“One case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the kingdom — it was a citizen coming from a North African country,” a ministry official told the state SPA news agency. Also Read - Indonesia Travel Update: Indonesia Reopens For Singapore Travellers to Boost Tourism

“He has been put in isolation, as have his contacts, and the necessary health measures have been taken,” he added. Also Read - Kerala Govt Imposes Fresh Curbs In State's Capital Amid Current Covid Situation | Check Guidelines Here

The new COVID variant, which was first announced by South Africa, has prompted the countries to reimpose travel restrictions, despite warnings from the World Health Organization this could do more harm than good.

Taking preventive measures, Saudi Arabia had last week suspended international flights from seven southern African countries.

Recently, the Arab Kingdom had lifted some of the restrictions it imposed earlier during the pandemic, allowing worshippers at the Muslim holy places to resume praying shoulder to shoulder from October.

Notably, Saudi Arabia has recorded 549,000 cases of Covid-19, and 8,836 deaths since the COVID outbreak started. More than 47 million doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the kingdom, which has a population of nearly 35 million.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the Omicron variant has been reported in a dozen of other countries. Those countries include United Kingdom and Europe, and Japan. Germany also this week confirmed its first case.

However, United States, India and China, which have been worst affected by the entire pandemic, have not yet reported any Omicron case.

In the wake of the new variant, various international airports across India have started stringent screening and testing of incoming passengers, particularly those from ‘at risk’ countries.

Latest reports suggest that Omicron was in circulation well before it was detected in South Africa last week. The cases were reported in Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium within 72 hours of the variant being identified underlines the (unwelcome) news that there may be many more Omicron cases in the world.