French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Sunday that the Omicron variant of coronavirus may already be spreading in France. He said that the government was taking measures to contain the spread of the variant.
The new variant which emerged from southern Africa is said to be more potent and contagious than any other coronavirus variant, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.
"There is no identification yet, but it's a matter of hours," Olivier Veran told reporters at a vaccination centre in Paris.
"Once the variant is circulating in England, in Italy, in Belgium, it is probable that there are already cases in circulation here. We will identify them and (...) we will slow down its spread as much as possible," he added.
The Health Ministry recommended on Saturday the isolation of any contact person at risk of a possible case or a confirmed case of the Omicron variant, even vaccinated, in documents sent to establishments and health professionals, Agence France Presse reported.
With 37,000 new cases recorded in just the last 24 hours, France is badly grappling with the coronavirus situation leading to a sharp rise in the number of patients in intensive care.
(with agency inputs)