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(LEAD) First suspected case of omicron variant detected in S. Korea

All News 20:10 November 30, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details from para 3)

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- The first suspected case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in South Korea, health authorities said Tuesday, as the nation tightened its entry restrictions for the African region to prevent it from spreading into the country.

Health authorities have conducted a genome sequencing test on a couple who recently arrived in South Korea from Nigeria and tested positive for COVID-19. The result will be announced on Wednesday.

The couple, who were fully vaccinated, visited Nigeria on Nov. 14-23 and tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Tests were under way to establish if they have contracted the omicron variant, the KDCA said.

From Sunday, South Korea restricted visa issuance and arrivals from eight African nations, including South Africa, to block the inflow of the new COVID-19 strain, joining a host of nations in imposing travel bans from and to the African region.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the omicron variant, first identified by scientists days ago in South Africa, a "variant of concern."

Although it will take time to assess the level of severity of the new strain, the WHO suggested the omicron variant posed an "increased risk of reinfection."

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