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posted by martyb on Thursday December 02, @09:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the ten-percent-of-the-US-population-lives-in-California dept.

Omicron is now in the U.S., with first case found in California:

The first U.S. case of the omicron variant has been identified in California in a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The patient had mild symptoms that were improving and was in isolation, officials said.

Much remains unknown about the highly mutated variant, which scientists fear could be more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines. The new variant has been identified in more than 20 countries since it was first identified in southern Africa last week.

[...] Federal health officials are expanding a program that offers free coronavirus testing at key U.S. airports, part of strengthened efforts to monitor international arrivals amid growing concerns about the omicron variant.

Under the program, visitors from eight African nations, including those connecting through Europe, who arrive at New York’s John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, San Francisco International and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airports, will be given the option of taking a test when they arrive. Those who volunteer also will be given the option of an at-home test to take three to five days after arrival.

International arrivals already are required to show proof of a negative virus test before boarding U.S.-bound flights, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing this week that the screening program at four of the nation’s busiest airports will provide additional data that can aid in the agency’s monitoring efforts.

First case of omicron COVID variant identified in the US:

The first confirmed US case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified in California, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a White House briefing Wednesday. The infected person arrived in the US from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive on Nov. 29, Fauci said.

"Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California at San Francisco, and the sequence was confirmed at the CDC as being consistent with the omicron variant," said Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

[...] The person was fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine -- but had not had a booster shot -- and experienced only mild symptoms that are now improving. They are quarantining, and all close contacts have so far tested negative, Fauci said. The person is a resident of San Francisco between the ages of 18 and 49, and was not hospitalized, California Governor Gavin Newsom said during a press conference Wednesday.

"We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States," Fauci said.

Fauci reiterated that within the next three weeks, there will be a lot more information about the transmissibility and severity of this strain of the disease, as well as the effectiveness of vaccinations and booster shots against the omicron variant. The new variant was first identified in South Africa in late November.

Also at Ars Technica and www.aljazeera.com


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  • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Thursday December 02, @03:01PM (6 children)

    by inertnet (4071) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 02, @03:01PM (#1201508)

    In the news today, most of the omicron infected passengers, who went into quarantine in the Netherlands, said they were vaccinated. A news quote translated by Google:

    Of the 61 infected passengers on the two KLM flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Schiphol, more than 90 percent said they had been vaccinated.

    It appears that none of them needed hospitalization.

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  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday December 02, @03:41PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 02, @03:41PM (#1201528) Journal

    So vaccinated persons catching omicron have mild symptoms.

    How bad are the symptoms of unvaccinated persons catching omicron? That is a good question to ask. The answer might suggest that the vaccine makes the symptoms less severe, or it might suggest the vaccine is ineffective against the new variant which has mild symptoms.

    --
    Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
    • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Thursday December 02, @09:10PM

      by inertnet (4071) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 02, @09:10PM (#1201633)

      I should have said "none of the 61 needed hospitalization". So not just the vaccinated.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @03:45PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @03:45PM (#1201530)

    All of them were younger than the demographic where hospitalization is common. Nothing can be concluded by their mild symptoms.

    Maybe Omicron infection is less severe, maybe more severe, maybe roughly the same. We'll know in several weeks-- three weeks after it spreads, in reasonably large numbers, into western countries with older, less healthy populations. Africa is a content of young people.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @04:21PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @04:21PM (#1201541)
      It's now known to have been spreading undetected for more than 2 mon, mostly because it literally is no big deal. People aren't dying from it, and if it hadn't been for routine testing, the index patient would not have been caught. The symptoms are mild - much milder than the vaccines for many people .

      This was expected. The mutations are the virus' way of "throwing enough shit at the wall to see what sticks." A virus the is just as easy to infect others, but is mostly symptomless, will easily displace a variant that makes people obviously sick - people tend not to hang around much against others coughing their guts out.

      The displacement of delta by omicron has already happened in South Africa - 74% of all new cases are omicron.

      You can expect the same around the world over the next 2 years, after wich it becomes like the other 4 coronaviruses that cause colds in humans.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, @01:35AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, @01:35AM (#1201709)

        I'm not sure, but even if you're wrong, it'll just go away when it gets warmer like the flu.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @07:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, @07:51PM (#1201609)

    "said"