Greece reported two more cases of the Covid-19 strain Omicron on Monday, bringing the total number of the known cases in the country to three.
The two new cases are related to people in Athens who recently traveled from South Africa, authorities said. They added that all the individuals’ contacts since arriving in the Greek capital are being monitored.
The first case of the Omicron variant was confirmed on Thursday by Minister of Health Thanos Plevris.
He said that a Greek citizen who recently arrived from South Africa had been diagnosed as having the variant on the Greek island of Crete.
The Minister assured the public that all quarantine and tracking protocols have been observed.
Evidence Omicron produces less severe infections
The news comes as evidence is mounting that Omicron may be producing less severe infections than previous Covid-19 variants, like Delta.
On Saturday, the South African Medical Research Council published a report about an Omicron-driven outbreak in the Tshwane district in South Africa’s northern Gauteng Province, one of the first areas in the world where Omicron has overtaken Delta as the dominant strain.
The researchers wrote that in the last two weeks there has been an “exponential” rise in caseloads, but significantly, the surge has not corresponded to a significant uptick in hospitalizations and deaths.
“The relatively low number of COVID-19 pneumonia hospitalizations in the general, high care, and ICU wards constitutes a very different picture compared to the beginning of previous waves,” the report said, examining data from the Steve Biko and Tshwane District Hospital complex.
White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is encouraged by the preliminary figures coming from South Africa.
“Though it’s too early to really make any definitive statements about it, thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said on CNN on Sunday.
The World Health Organization (WHO), unsettled by the presence of the new variant and its detection all over the world announced in late November that Omicron has shown that it spreads more easily and may lead to further surges in infection rates, saying that such spikes could lead to “severe consequences” in some places.
As of now, there have been no deaths linked to the Omicron mutation, but more research must be undertaken to determine if the vaccines currently in use will work against it and if those who have antibodies to other strains will also have that natural protection against the new variant.
The WHO urged all of its 194 member nations to accelerate vaccinations in their high-priority groups.