The first case of the novel Omicron coronavirus variant in the United States was confirmed in California on Wednesday, less than a week after it was discovered in South Africa.
According to the White House, a person in California who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 became the first person in the United States to have an identified case of the omicron strain, as scientists continue to investigate the risks posed by the new virus strain.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the person was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive for HIV on Nov. 29. Fauci went on to say that the person had been vaccinated but had not received a booster dose and was facing “moderate symptoms.”
Contact tracing has been conducted, and all of the individual’s close contacts have tested negative so far, according to Fauci. “We were well aware that it was only a question of time,” he said.
The case was discovered using the state’s large-scale testing and early detection mechanisms, according to California Governor Gavin Newsom. “We should assume that it is also occurring in other states,” the governor stated.
“There is no need for alarm, ”Newsom wrote on Twitter. “However, we must maintain vigilance. This suggests that we should get immunized. Get a booster shot. Indoors, use a mask.”
President Joe Biden is working on a strategy to combat COVID-19 this winter, and people briefed on the matter told Reuters that one measure will be to extend the requirement for travelers to wear masks until mid-March.
According to sources, an official statement is expected on Thursday. In addition, the White House intends to announce new screening requirements for international visitors.
According to a letter obtained by Reuters from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, airlines in the United States have been ordered to turn over the identities of passengers traveling from parts of southern Africa affected by Omicron.
The genomic sequencing was carried out by the University of California, San Francisco, and was confirmed by the CDC.
Much about the new strain is unknown, including whether it is more contagious than previous strains, whether it causes more severe illness, and whether it can evade vaccination.
On November 24, South Africa reported the Omicron variant, designated B.1.1.529, to the World Health Organization. The WHO classified Omicron as a “variant of concern” on Friday due to the virus’s rapid mutation rate, which may allow it to resist immunizations and spread more easily.