BRASILIA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The new variant of the coronavirus Omicron is a variant of "concern" not "despair," Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Monday, adding that the country's health system is prepared for an eventual new COVID-19 wave.
"It is not a variant of despair because we have health authorities committed to providing quality care to our population," the minister said.
A Brazilian citizen coming from South Africa was quarantined in the South American country after testing positive for COVID-19, since it was not known which variant had infected him.
The first case of the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization on Nov. 24.
The new variant has a number of previously unseen mutations, mainly in the spike protein the virus uses to invade human cells.
Over the weekend, Queiroga asked Brazilians to remain calm, saying that measures against the new variant are the same, and the main weapon against COVID-19 is vaccination.
Brazil had accumulated 22,080,906 COVID-19 cases and 614,278 deaths from the virus as of Sunday.