Omicron COVID-19 variant spreads globally

Updates on the newly emerged, Omicron variant, first detected by scientists in South Africa.

Photo%3A+AFP

Photo: AFP

November 11 and 14, 2021

The Omicron variant is detected in specimens in South Africa and Botswana.

COVID-19 positive tests in South Africa have increased by 24% since the first detection of the Omicron variant.

December 1, 2021 

First Omicron variant case detected in the United States.

The United States closed its borders to many countries in Southern Africa as a direct result of the detection of the new Omicron variant. Despite new restrictions, the variant has now been detected domestically in the U.S. and globally as countries including the European Union, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia, Japan, among others scramble to impose restrictions on travel.

United States immigration also enacted that starting December 6, 2021, travelers entering the U.S. would have to present a negative COVID-19 case, regardless of vaccination status.

Prevalent amidst the whole pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke about the new travel restrictions stating, “the ban was meant to provide time to assess the situation”. He also stated that he hoped the U.S. government would be able to lift restrictions in a “reasonable period of time.”

 

Additional U.S. health officials said that despite the quickly spreading Omicron variant, there are early indicators that it may be less dangerous than the Delta variant.

What is known about the Omicron variant:

  • Most likely spreads more easily than the original COVID-19 virus.
  • Current vaccines against COVID-19 are expected to be as protective against severe illness.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists are working diligently to learn more about this new variant in order to keep the public safe and informed.

How do we continue to stay safe from COVID-19 and its Delta and Omicron variants?

  • Vaccines are still the best public health way to stay safe, receive your booster shot when it becomes available to you.
  • Masks and face coverings protect from all virus variants.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms.

 

As of December 14, 2021, the second case of the Omicron variant has been reported in Northern region of the state of Virginia.

More information about COVID-19 on the CDC and WHO webpages.