One person tested positive for the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus on France’s Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.
French authorities further said that six of his contacts are being tested.
Patrick Mavingui, a microbiologist at the island’s research clinic for infectious diseases, said the person who has tested positive for the new variant is a 53-year-old man who had traveled to Mozambique and stopped in South Africa before returning to France.
He has “muscle pain and fatigue,” Mavingui said, according to public television Reunion 1ere.
The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from Omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence. It further said it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”
The new variant was first identified in Botswana, before it rapidly outcompeting other versions of the virus in the region of South Africa that includes Johannesburg.
A top health official calls it “the most significant variant” to date, but the UK didn’t confirm any cases to date.
“It is bad news, but it’s not doomsday,” an Oxford scientist tells the BBC.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the UK is taking a “safety-first approach” in regard to the travel ban.
Nine countries including Germany, Italy, Israel and Singapore have also restricted travel.
The World Health Organization will hold a special meeting later today to discuss the variant.