Georgia has confirmed the first two cases of the new COVID variant, Omicron, Director General of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health Amiran Gamrkelidze announced today.
The senior healthcare official said both of the patients are Georgian citizens. One of them has a history of travel to the U.S. and the other to the United Arab Emirates.
Both of the infected persons are young and have mild cases of the disease. Suffering from low-grade fever and runny nose, both are undergoing treatment at home, according to the NCDC chief.
Gamkrelidze said that the two persons have been in contact with 11 foreign and 15 Georgian citizens, who are being examined. Some of the foreigners have already left Georgia and they tested negative before their departure, the healthcare official added. He noted, however, that some of the contacts have tested positive, and the authorities are probing if they are infected with the new strain.
The top healthcare official noted that the new COVID strain is up to 3-4 times more contagious than previous Delta and Delta+ variants, and could be most harmful for those under the age of 40.
Responding to a reporter, Gamkrelidze said he does not expect the epidemiological situation in Georgia to rapidly worsen ahead of the New Year holidays despite the emergence of the new strain.
“If it spreads with a pace that is [usually] characteristic to the Omicron [variant], it will burden the healthcare sector,” he noted however, going on to express hope that even in that case most of the Omicron patients will not need hospitalization.
As of December 20, Georgia has confirmed a total of 910,456 COVID cases, 863,076 recoveries and 13,116 fatalities. Active cases stand at 34,238.
Georgia has fully vaccinated 1,080,162 persons, while 1,255,593 have received at least one jab.
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