Colombia detects three cases of Omicron, government says

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People wearing face masks participate on the EVA fair at the Parque de la 93, after the mayor's office reactivated economic activities amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Bogota, Colombia June 19, 2021. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

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BOGOTA, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Colombia's national health institute has identified three cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the country, the health ministry said on Monday.

The cases were found in people living in the coastal cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta.

Two of the people had visited the United States and one had visited Spain, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said in a statement. Two are Colombian and one is from the United States.

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"This is in line with what we have been announcing for several weeks in terms of the imminent arrival of the variant to Colombia, which is now circulating in more than 80 countries," Ruiz said. "As it stands we have not identified any community transmission."

Those who were in contact with the three people are being traced, the statement added.

The government is urging Colombians to finish their vaccinations ahead of the Christmas season.

Some 27.2 million people are fully vaccinated, while another 32.6 million have had a first dose.

The Andean country has a population of about 50 million and is also vaccinating Venezuelan migrants regardless of their migratory status. That population is estimated at at least 1.8 million people.

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Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Sonya Hepinstall Editing by Chris Reese

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