ATHENS, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Greece has detected the first COVID-19 Omicron variant case in the country, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said on Thursday.
"The case concerns a Greek citizen from South Africa who is in Crete. All quarantine and tracking contacts protocols have been implemented," he told Greek national broadcaster ERT.
The Greek man, who is a permanent resident in the African country, arrived at the Greek airport on Nov. 26. He was vaccinated and had mild symptoms. Initial tests were negative, but a PCR test on Nov. 29 showed he was positive to the Omicron variant.
In the wake of the emergence of the new variant, Greece has strengthened measures to curb the further spread of the virus.
The parliament passed a bill on Wednesday evening foreseeing the obligatory vaccination of permanent residents of Greece of over 60 next year.
Those who will not book appointments for inoculation by Jan. 16 will face a monthly fine of 100 euros (113 U.S. dollars).
The government proceeded to the measure given that many of the admissions to hospitals and intensive care units concern elderly people and 500,000 of this age category have still not received a shot.
Appointments for a first vaccination have jumped sharply in the first few days after the government's announcement.
Greece confirmed on Wednesday 6,196 new infections and 75 deaths in the last 24 hours, while 690 patients were on ventilators in hospitals nationwide. (1 euro= 1.13 U.S. dollars)