Cape Town Airport. / SUR

Madrid hospital detects Spain's first case of the Omicron variant

The 51-year-old patient travelled from South Africa on 28 November via Amsterdam. He has mild symptoms and is in isolation

ÁLVARO SOTO

The microbiology service at the Gregorio Marañón hospital in Madrid has reported the first case of the Omicron variant of the Covid virus detected in Spain this Monday, 29 November.

The patient is a 51-year-old man who flew in from South Africa via Amsterdam on 28 November, the Madrid regional health service has confirmed.

The health authority is keeping the close contacts of the passenger on the flight to Madrid from the Dutch capital under "epidemiological surveillance", it said.

The positive case was detected in an antigen test screening at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, said the department, adding that the patient "has mild symptoms and is quarantining in isolation".

It seemed only a matter of time before the Omicron variant would reach Spain, with 13 cases already reported in Portugal and dozens around Europe.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Monday that he hoped that the variant would not "alter our lives or our economy" but the government has already taken action to protect the country from the new variant.

According to the minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manual Albares, the "more than 200" people from Spain currently in the affected countries in southern Africa would be given seats on flights operated by the airline that is still flying from South Africa to Europe.

A flight would also be chartered by the government from Mozambique "probably on Wednesday or Thursday" to repatriate Spaniards currently in that country, which has no direct flights to Spain.