Health officials on Wednesday confirmed Brazil’s third known case of the omicron coronavirus variant as the government examined possible new measures to contain the virus, such as suspending some flights and requiring arriving passengers to show proof of vaccination.
A passenger from Ethiopia tested positive for Covid-19 upon landing in Sao Paulo on Nov. 27, the state’s health secretariat said in a statement. The 29 year-old man is vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer shot and is in good health, officials said.
The news came a day after Brazilian health officials reported confirmed cases of the omicron variant in two travelers arriving from South Africa –– the first such cases in Latin America.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
Brazil has suffered heavily from the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 610,000 deaths, second only to the U.S.
Late Tuesday, the government said it needed “further clarification” on the epidemiological situation in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia before deciding whether to suspend flights from these countries, as recommended by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, known as Anvisa.
The South American country has already blocked flights originating from or with stopovers in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Rodrigo Cruz, the Health Ministry’s number two, said on Wednesday the nation was also debating whether to require vaccine certificates from arriving passengers. Brazil does not currently require COVID-19 vaccination from foreign travelers entering the country.
In a technical note sent to the government on Nov. 12, Anvisa asked the government to consider such a step, citing a 4.6% increase in tourism activities in October and upcoming end-of-year celebrations.
The lack of vaccine requirement “may allow Brazil to become one of the countries of choice for unvaccinated tourists and travelers, which is undesirable from the point of view of the risk that this group represents for the Brazilian population,” Anvisa said.
More suspicious cases are being investigated, with a final number expected to be released later Wednesday, Health Ministry said.
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Brazil confirms 3rd omicron case, considers new measures (2021, December 1)
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