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Omicron: Iran detects first case of Covid-19 variant

Deputy health minister says variant identified in an Iranian man who had returned from the United Arab Emirates
A man wearing a face mask as protection from Covid-19 sits on a bench at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran (AFP)

Iran has detected its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, a health official has confirmed. 

Kamal Heidari, Iran's deputy health minister, told state television on Sunday that an Iranian man from Tehran had tested positive after returning from the United Arab Emirates

"We detected him very quickly and immediately quarantined him and the contact cases," Heidari said.

"The necessary measures were taken to quarantine this person who lives in Tehran and those who were in contact with him."

More than 50 million of Iran's population of approximately 85 million have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine.

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The worst-hit country in the Middle East during the coronavirus pandemic, Iran has recorded at least 130,000 deaths. 

Scientists remain unclear how dangerous the highly mutated Omicron variant is, but early data suggests it can be more resistant to vaccines and is far more transmissible than the delta variant. 

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

The cases were detected in three Egyptians returning from abroad, two of whom had no symptoms, the country's health ministry said, without specifying where they had arrived from.

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