SAN FRANCISCO (CBSSF) — Dr. Anthony Fauci announced Wednesday that a person who traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area from South Africa has tested positive for the COVID omicron variant — the first confirmed case in the United States.
Fauci said the California and San Francisco Public Health Departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the case was caused by an omicron variant through genetic sequencing that was done at the University of California, San Francisco, and confirmed with the CDC.
The person, whose name has not been released, arrived in the Bay area on November 22. They fell ill and sought medical treatment which led to his discovery on November 29.
Fauci said the patient had been vaccinated, was in quarantine, and had mild symptoms. Those who had been in contact with the individual were tested and found to be negative.
The World Health Organization classifies omicron as a “variable of concern”. In a technical brief released this week, the World Health Organization noted that the alternative poses a “very high” global risk. The variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa, and since then it has been discovered in many countries.
Scientists are working to determine how transmissible the variant is, how sick people can get, and how effective current vaccines are against it. Until more information is known about the alternative, the United States has restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries.
said a joint statement on Wednesday from the California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health. Our partners at the University of California, San Francisco have identified this case through their sequencing capabilities. California continues to monitor variant presence and progression through state robust whole-genome sequencing monitoring.
“We must remain vigilant against this alternative, but it is not a cause for panic. To help detect and prevent the spread of this new variant, 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 (CDC). We We realize that everyone is stressed, and news of a new variant can be overwhelming.It is important that we collectively focus on the things we know are preventing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.Individuals should (1) get vaccinated and booster (2) wear a mask indoors; (3) Get tested if you have symptoms; and (4) stay home if you are sick.”
On Monday, President Joe Biden called the alternative “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” saying “we must confront this new threat just as we confront those who came before it.”
Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, or to get a booster dose if they qualify. Other measures such as masks, hand washing, physical distance and ventilation will still work against the Omicron variant.
The delta variant of the coronavirus remains the dominant variant globally and in the United States.
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