Two new Omicron coronavirus variants were detected in Berlin-Bavaria in southern Germany, and suspicious cases were found in the western part of the country, health officials said Saturday.
The Bavarian Ministry of Health said two people with this variant entered Germany at Munich Airport on November 24, before South Africa was designated as a virus-mutated area, and are currently in quarantine.
The two went forward for further investigation after hearing about the new varieties that caused global concerns and caused the curb wave of travel.
The Bavarian Ministry said that anyone who has stayed in South Africa in the last 14 days should immediately reduce their contact information, undergo a PCR test and contact local health authorities.
“Bavarian responded to very new varieties early and quickly,” said a provincial spokesman. “We have to do everything to prevent it from spreading.”
Of the passengers arriving from Cape Town on Friday, 50 are quarantined in Bavaria. According to the Bavarian Ministry, two foreign passengers are positive for coronavirus and are being investigated for the Omicron variant.
Earlier, officials in western Hessen, home to one of Europe’s busiest airports, Frankfurt Airport, said passengers arriving from South Africa were found with suspected Omicron variants.
The person arrived in Germany on Sunday and was fully vaccinated, Der Spiegel reported, citing Hessen’s Ministry of Social Affairs. No one in the ministry could comment immediately.
Health officials in the city of Frankfurt said they were expecting the results of the full sequence on Monday. Last week’s routine tests, after a positive coronavirus test, cast out cases that showed signs of a new variant, he said.
Authorities have since introduced coronavirus testing to all travelers from South Africa and Namibia arriving at Frankfurt Airport. So far, nothing is positive.
Germany has classified South Africa as a virus mutant area since Sunday. This does not lead to a flight ban, but it does mean that airlines can only fly Germans from South Africa to Germany, and even vaccinated people have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
Germany’s surge in coronavirus
Germany, like many other European countries, is working on a surge in cases of coronavirus, so new variants have emerged.
Health Minister Jens Spawn warned that the situation was worse than ever. “We need to reduce all contact, we are in a more serious situation than before,” he said at the Town Hall on Saturday with a group of experts.
Many Germans expect stricter restrictions, especially as intensive care units in eastern and southern Germany reach their limits.
Leif Erik Sander, an immunoscientist at Charite Hospital in Berlin, said current vaccines probably provide at least some protection against Omicron variants.
“We are optimistic that we don’t have to start from the beginning,” he told the City Hall, adding that more research is needed.
However, only 68.3 percent of the population of about 83 million are fully vaccinated, well below the rates in Southern European countries such as Portugal and Spain. About 10 percent of the population received booster shots, Spahn said.
According to the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, Germany recorded 67,125 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 100,000 people have died of COVID-19.