Mexico has detected its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced Friday.
It said the case was detected in a 51-year-old South African citizen who arrived in Mexico on November 21.
The ministry said in a statement that the person developed mild COVID-19 symptoms six days later and was admitted to a private hospital in Mexico City.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said on Twitter that the person has a “favorable“ prognosis.
The Health Ministry said the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference analyzed a sample of the virus and determined that it was the omicron strain.
President López Obrador and López-Gatell downplayed the gravity of the highly-mutated strain earlier this week. The president said no new restrictions were planned.
López-Gatell said Friday that closing borders and blocking the entry of people and goods “are not useful measures to contain variants.”
“The World Health Organization says that vaccination continues to be fundamental to reduce the risks of hospitalization and death. We call [on people] to remain calm and keep applying measures to avoid infections: healthy distance, face mask use, sneezing etiquette and frequent washing of hands,” he wrote on Twitter.
Although Mexico isn’t restricting the entry of any foreign visitors, the Health Ministry has advised Mexicans to avoid nonessential international travel due to the high possibility of infection with the coronavirus.
It raised its travel warning to level 3 “avoid all nonessential travel” for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
The ministry cited an increase in coronavirus case numbers in Europe and the emergence of omicron as reasons for the increased warning level, although there is no evidence that the variant causes more serious COVID-19 disease.
“In Europe new cases have increased by 11% and deaths by 3% in the past seven days. The highest number of cases are concentrated in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Russia,” it said.
“In recent days the omicron variant was detected. At the moment it is defined as a variant of concern and its transmission, hospitalization and death risk compared with other variants is under investigation.”
Meanwhile, Mexico’s accumulated coronavirus case tally stands at 3.89 million after 3,146 cases were reported Thursday. The official COVID-19 death toll rose by 287 to 294,715.
Mexico News Daily