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Omicron: Egypt detects first three cases of Covid-19 variant

Variant spotted in three Egyptians returning from abroad, two of whom had no symptoms while the third had mild ones
Around 40 million of Egypt's more than 102 million population have received at least one dose of vaccine (AFP)

Egypt announced on Saturday that it had detected its first three cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, in the middle of the high tourist season.

The variant was spotted in three Egyptians returning from abroad, two of whom had no symptoms while the third had only mild symptoms, the country's ministry of health said without specifying where they had arrived from.

The aviation and tourism sector in Egypt, which has suffered the full brunt of the Covid-19 health crisis over the past two years following containment measures around the world, was banking on end-of-year celebrations to reinvigorate the economy.

Since 1 December, Egypt has strengthened its health measures, prohibiting officials and students who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 from accessing public buildings and universities without a PCR test.

Having long lagged behind other countries' vaccine roll-outs, Egypt, which officially has had 373,509 cases of coronavirus, including 21,277 deaths, has considerably accelerated its vaccination campaign, with large reinforcements of mobile units and vaccination stands at metro stations.

Around 40 million of Egypt's more than 102 million population have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the government, but only 14 million of them have received a second dose as the country faces a fourth epidemic wave .

Mask wearing is very little heeded, especially among the densely populated capital of Cairo and its 20 million inhabitants.