Omicron variant not detected in Turkey, says Health Minister

No cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron have been detected in Turkey, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Nov. 29. Koca's announcement came amid concerns that the variant is spreading faster than anticipated.

Duvar English

The newly discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus has not been detected in Turkey, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Nov. 29.

The minister said that Turkey had last week taken precautions against the new variant, referring to the country's travel ban from five African countries.

"As we have experienced their examples before, variants are a natural part of the pandemic process. No new variant has been detected in our country. The importance of precaution has come to the foreground once again," Koca said on Twitter.

On Nov. 26, Koca had announced that travelers from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe would not be allowed to enter Turkey due to rising cases of the new variant.

The World Health Organization has declared the new coronavirus strain from southern Africa a “variant of concern,” naming it Omicron.

The strain has already spread to many countries, including some European countries and Australia.

Mehmet Ceyhan, the head of the Ankara-based Infectious Diseases Association, said that the variant is spreading faster than anticipated" and urged the government to expand the travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Nov. 29 recorded 24,317 new coronavirus cases and 189 virus-related deaths. According to the latest data, the inoculate rate of people with two vaccine doses is 60.6 percent in Turkey.