The Nepali government on Monday confirmed the first two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the country.
A 66-year-old foreign national who arrived in Nepal on Nov. 19 and a 71-year-old person having close contact with him have been found to be infected with the Omicron variant, Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population said in a press statement.
“It is for the first time that the presence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been confirmed in Nepal,” the statement said, noting the swab samples of the two persons were tested Sunday night through gene sequencing at the National Public Health Laboratory in Kathmandu.
The two men are from the same country, Hemanta Chandra Ojha, chief of the Zoonotic and Other Communicable Diseases Control Section under the ministry, told Xinhua.
The 66-year-old man entered Nepal through Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu with vaccination document and a negative PCR test, the ministry said, adding the man and the other person eventually started to show symptoms of coronavirus infections.
The two foreigners are recovering at an isolation center, the ministry said, noting that none of the 66 people who were in contact with them have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Omicron variant, first identified on Nov. 24 in South Africa, has spread to around dozens of regions and countries.
The Nepali government has imposed travel restrictions on those from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China.