Omicron’s variant of the coronavirus has made its way to California.
Federal health officials said the infected person returned to the state from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive on Monday. The person was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that improved.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before the first case of omicron was discovered in the United States,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s chief infectious disease expert, said during Wednesday’s briefing.
The patient is subject to self-quarantine. All close contacts have been identified and tested negative so far. according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials did not say where the affected individual lived, but the case has been confirmed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, with genetic sequencing performed at the University of California, San Francisco.
“We must remain vigilant against this alternative, but it is not a cause for panic,” the California and San Francisco public health departments said in a joint statement. To help detect and prevent the spread of this new species, the state of California is increasing COVID-19 testing at our airports for those coming from countries designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are aware that everyone is exhausted, and news of the new variant can be overwhelming,” the statement continued. “It is important that we collectively focus on the things we know are preventing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Individuals should be vaccinated and boosted; wear a mask indoors; get tested if you have symptoms; and stay home if you are sick.”
Having the variable in the state is not unexpected. It was first revealed In the past month, the strain has already been found in nearly two dozen countries around the world.
However, the arrival of the highly mutated variant comes in what was Already shaped to be A particularly uneasy time in California. Administrators have Concerned for a long time The second blow of the year-end holiday season and cold weather will increasingly prompt people to congregate in crowded indoor spaces where the risk of transmission of the coronavirus is particularly high.
But whether Omicron eventually proves to be more of a speed bump or a roadblock on California’s road to pandemic recovery remains to be seen.
Much is still unknown about Omicron. The answers to the most pressing questions — whether the variant spreads easily, can cause severe disease or avoid some of the protection offered by vaccines — will likely not be known for a few weeks.
And while the enemy may be new, public health officials say the battle plan is familiar. The main driver of these efforts is to vaccinate as many people as possible, and to give birth to adults Take advantage of booster shots when their time comes.
“We don’t know everything we need to know yet about the Omicron variant. But we do know that vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from severe illness and complications from all known variants of SARS-CoV-2 so far,” said Dr. Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the CDC. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a briefing Tuesday.
While experts are still racing to determine the full ramifications of Omicron, the fact that it contains more mutations than any other previous variant is troubling.
Although not all mutations are inherently bad news, scientists worry that some of those mutations in omicron may make the virus more transmissible or resistant to immunity from previous vaccines or infections.
“The thing that caught everyone’s attention was the large number of mutations — about 50, much larger than the previous variants. Depending on the molecular composition, some are expected to affect transmissibility and antibody binding,” Fauci said earlier this week.
However, it is unclear whether Omicron may spread as easily as the highly contagious delta variant, which is still the dominant strain in both California and the United States. It might still be weeks away.
“Pending this data, the impact of this variable on disease transmission, disease severity, and how well current vaccines and treatments work remains speculative,” he said.
What is already known, though, was disturbing enough that the World Health Organization quickly identifies Omicron as ‘Kind of anxiety’.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Video statement Monday.
The world, he added, “lives in a cycle of panic and neglect” where “hard-earned gains can fade in an instant.”
“We shouldn’t need another wake-up call. We should all be alert to the danger of this virus.