US Reports First Omicron COVID-19 Variant

The US has announced its first confirmed omicron COVID-19 variant case on Wednesday. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, made the announcement at the White House.

“We knew it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” he said.

The infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22. The person agreed to remain in quarantine, and all the individual’s close contacts have been reached and have tested negative.

“Any declaration of what will or will not happen with this variant, I think it is too early to say,” Fauci said.

He said Americans should continue to follow public health advice to get vaccinated and get their booster shots. “If you look at the things we have been recommending, they’re just the same,” Fauci said.

“We will likely see this scenario play out multiple times across the country in the coming days or weeks,” said Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.

“This particular case shows the system working as it was designed to work – an individual with travel history from South Africa, an astute laboratory and quick prioritization of the specimen for sequencing, and close coordination with public health officials.”

Nigeria and Saudi Arabia also reported omicron infections on Wednesday, marking the first known cases in West Africa and the Persian Gulf region.

Japan had also asked airlines to stop taking new incoming flight bookings after detecting its first case of the Omicron COVID-19 strain.


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