(CMR) The United States has confirmed its first case of the new, heavily mutated COVID-19 variant omicron in Northern California.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the individual, who was fully vaccinated, had just returned from traveling in South Africa to the San Francisco area on November 22 and tested positive on November 29.
“The individual is self quarantining, and all close contacts have been contacted and all close contacts, thus far, have tested negative,” he announced at a White House press briefing providing more details of the case. “We feel good that this patient not only had mild symptoms but actually the symptoms appear to be improving.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom cautioned residents against panicking. “But we should remain vigilant,” he said over Twitter. “That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”
The variant, initially known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in South Africa. Scientists say they will need a few weeks to determine how vaccines and treatments perform against the new variant.
Since South Africa first reported the variant to the World Health Organization a week ago, it has been found in Canada, the U.K., Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Hong Kong. According to the World Health Organization, omicron has been reported in at least 23 countries.