The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) announced Tuesday that two Brazilians had tested positive for the omicron COVID-19 variant, marking the first confirmed cases in Latin America.
A traveler arriving in Sao Paulo from South Africa and his wife, who had not travelled, both tested positive for the new variant, ANVISA said in a statement.
The traveler landed at Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport on Nov. 23 with a negative test for COVID-19, but before a planned return trip, the couple tested positive.
Samples from individuals with the omicron variant will be sent to the Adolfo Lutz Institute for further analysis, the statement added.
The traveler arrived in Sao Paulo before Brazil closed its borders with South Africa and five other southern African countries Friday in an effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variant.
Brazil is the country which reported the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in the world after the US.
The country’s overall case tally now exceeds 22 million while the death toll has reached more than 614,000.