The first case of the Omicron variant was just detected on Wednesday in the city of San Francisco, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which identified the first US case of the mutated virus on Wednesday afternoon.
The CDC issued a statement late on Wednesday saying “The California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health have confirmed that a recent case of COVID-19 among an individual in California was caused by the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529).”
The statement went on to say that the individual in question had just returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, 2021.
“The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative,” the CDC stated in the press release.
After the sample was taken from the patient, genomic sequencing was conducted at the laboratories of the University of California at San Francisco. The mutation was then confirmed confirmed at the CDC as being consistent with the strain that was first identified in South Africa as being a “variant of concern.”
At this point, it is still unclear how virulent the strain is. The first physician to note the existence of the new strain and recognize it as being different from all other known coronavirus strains, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, stated that it was less severe than other strains.
Although the variant has now been diagnosed in many nations all over the globe, from South Africa to Canada, Australia and Great Britain, Dr. Coetzee, who is the chair of the South African Medical Association, told Reuters that her patients were suffering only “very mild” symptoms.
At that time, she picked up on clues that seven patients in her clinic were experiencing symptoms that were somewhat different from those caused by the Delta strain of there virus, which is by far the most dominant mutation around the world now.
At this point there have been no deaths associated with the Omicron mutation.
The US and Europe have already taken precautions regarding the possible importation of the strain from southern African countries, closing off travel from that region except for their own returning citizens, who must test negative upon their return.
So far, cases of the omicron variant have also been identified in more than twenty other countries.
Before the announcement, the US CDC was already endeavoring to tighten the testing rules for travelers coming in from overseas, including a test for all travelers within one day of boarding a flight to the U.S. — whether or not the traveler has been fully vaccinated.
Regardless of the severity of the disease that may be caused by the new variant, US officials said that the strict new measures would at least “buy time” so that health officials can learn more about the mutation.