Bulgaria’s National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) said on January 2 that it has found the Omicron coronavirus strain in 12 samples sequenced over the festive period, the first time that the variant was officially confirmed in the country.
In total, NCIPD sequenced 275 samples taken from Covid-19 patients over a period of time ranging from November 15 to December 22, which came from 21 out of Bulgaria’s 28 districts.
The 12 samples showing the presence of the Omicron strain all came from hospitals in Sofia, with 11 patients from the Bulgarian capital city and one from the district of Sofia.
In a separate statement, the Health Ministry said that all 12 patients were undergoing home treatment and had a lighter form of the disease.
Seven of the patients had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 and the five that had jabs, had completed their vaccination cycle more than nine months ago and had not received booster shots.
“From this point on, we expect the transmission rate to speed up and the Omicron strain to become the dominant variant in the country, which is what we’ve seen in other European countries, given that the main feature of Omicron is its quicker transmission, meaning it affects more people in a shorter period of time,” the ministry statement quoted Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev as saying.
The other 263 samples sequenced by NCIPD all showed the presence of the Delta variant. Of those, 13 patients have died, 18 have recovered, 58 were in hospital and 174 were undergoing home treatment, as of December 6-29.
NCIPD said that 43 cases it sequenced showed the Delta strain of the virus, collectively designated B.1.617.2 by the World Health Organisation.
The other cases were attributed to separate individual lineages of that variant, with the most numerous being AY.43 (57), AY.4 (33), AY.9.2 (23), AY.9.1 (17) and AY.122 (13). Twenty-one other subvariants accounted for the remaining 77 samples sequenced by NCIPD.
The largest number of samples, including both the Omicron and Delta strains, came from the city of Sofia (62), followed by the districts of Pleven (44), Stara Zagora (35), Plovdiv (33), Turgovishte (24) and Varna (18).
(Photo: Military Medical Academy)
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