The UAE has reported the first Omicron cases in the Gulf

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia reported the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the Gulf, followed by a case in the UAE hours later, according to health ministries in both countries on Wednesday.

“One case of the Omicron variant was detected in the kingdom – it was a citizen from a North African country,” a Saudi health ministry official told the state news agency SPA.


“He has been isolated, as have his contacts, and all necessary health precautions have been taken.”


The neighbouring United Arab Emirates later announced that it had also discovered its first Omicron case, in a “African woman arriving from an African country via an Arab country,” according to the health ministry’s Twitter account.

South Africa was the first to report the variant, but it has since been discovered that it was present earlier in Europe.

It has prompted governments around the world to reimpose travel restrictions, despite World Health Organization warnings that doing so may cause more harm than good.

Saudi Arabia suspended flights from seven southern African countries last week, mirroring similar moves by other governments, but travel to and from North Africa has not been affected.

From October, the kingdom had begun to lift some of the remaining restrictions imposed early in the pandemic, allowing worshippers at Muslim holy sites to resume praying shoulder-to-shoulder.

In the kingdom, which has a population of nearly 35 million people, more than 47 million doses of Covid vaccine have been administered.

Saudi Arabia has recorded over 549,000 Covid-19 cases, more than 8,800 of which were fatal, since the pandemic began, while the UAE has recorded approximately 742,100 cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

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