Skip to main content

Omicron: Gaza detects first case of Covid-19 variant

Carrier is a Gaza resident who was infected within the besieged enclave, says health ministry official
Gaza, with a population of 2.2 million people, has registered 189,837 Covid-19 infections and 1,691 deaths (AFP)

The Palestinian health ministry has said it has identified the first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The carrier is a Gaza resident who was infected within the coastal territory, ministry official Majdi Dhair told a news conference.

Dhair said this meant the variant, first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong last month, existed in Gaza and was now spreading among the population. 

The discovery poses a new challenge to the enclave's under-developed health system.

"We are facing difficult days ahead. It is expected that the Omicron variant will spread fast," Dhair told reporters on Sunday.

Gaza, with a population of 2.2 million people, has registered 189,837 Covid-19 infections and 1,691 deaths.

Dhair urged Gazans to get vaccinated, putting the percentage of those who had already received shots at around 40 percent, AFP reported.

In the occupied West Bank, three cases of Omicron variant had been detected among Palestinians on 16 December and the number had since risen to 23 among the 3.1 million population, Palestinian health authorities said on Saturday.