A case of the new coronavirus variant Omicron has been detected in Italy, the National Health Institute (ISS) said on Saturday.

The genome was sequenced at the Laboratory of Clinical Microbiology, Virology and Bioemergency Diagnostics of the Sacco Hospital in Milan from a positive sample of a patient coming from Mozambique.

The patient and his family contacts were in good health, the ISS said, adding that the sequence of the sample, “attributable to the one now known as a variant of concern (VOC) and defined yesterday by WHO as “Omicron”, was in the process of further confirmation.

Although the World Health Organization has not yet released details on the prevalence of the coronavirus "omicron" variant, an epidemiologist estimated that it is five times more likely for human beings to be infected compared to the delta variant.