Alabama has confirmed its first case of the ommicron COVID variant.
The variant, which was first identified in Africa in late November, was confirmed in the state for the first time today. The patient is an Alabama resident who lives in the West Central Public Health District, an area that encompasses 11 counties, including Tuscaloosa, Chilton and Walker counties.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the person developed mild COVID symptoms in early December and was tested. The person has no travel history outside of Alabama.
“We know that this virus is highly contagious and is spreading rapidly around the world. Alabamians know what to do to keep each other safe now — get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together we can fight this virus and help keep our residents safe,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
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Omicron is classified as a “variant of concern,” but scientists are still trying to determine how it compares to the predominant delta variant in terms of how easily it spreads and how severe it is. Scientists are also studying the extent to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against Omicron.
“We still need to learn more about Omicron, but the most important thing we can do now is use the tools we have to make the spread of this virus as difficult as possible,” he said. “In addition to vaccination and boosters, we can slow the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the proven prevention methods of wearing masks, staying home when sick and getting tested if necessary.”
ADPH also recommends:
- Get vaccinated and, if eligible, a booster. Go to vaccines.gov. to find a vaccine near you
- Wear well-fitting masks in indoor public areas and in crowded outdoor environments.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people, especially if you are at greater risk of becoming very ill.
- Get tested if you have symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, have traveled or been in an environment where you may have been exposed.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Stay away from crowds.
- Improve ventilation in your home and workplace.
- Take extra care to avoid exposure to the virus if you have underlying risk factors or live with someone who does.
The first US case of ommicron was identified in California on December 1, less than a month after it was found in Botswana on November 11 and in South Africa on November 14.
Research indicates that omicron may be more transmissible than the current delta variant that remains the dominant strain in the US. Omicron accounts for 3% of all Covid-19 cases sequenced in the US, down from less than 0.1% at the beginning of December. On December 10, there was one hospitalization and no deaths among the first 43 ommicron COVID cases in the US. There are now more than 189 cases of the variant.