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First confirmed US case of omicron coronavirus variant appears in California

Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the U.S. president, said the first person confirmed in the country to have the omicron coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant tested positive on Nov. 29 with mild symptoms. – Photo by NIAID / Wikimedia.org

The U.S. received its first confirmed case of the omicron coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in California yesterday, according to a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The person involved came back from South Africa on Nov. 22 and experienced mild symptoms that have since improved, according to the statement. This individual tested positive on Nov. 29, while close contacts have tested negative, said Dr. Anthony Fauci in a White House briefing yesterday.

“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the U.S.,” Fauci said. “We know what we need to do to protect people: get vaccinated if you're not already vaccinated, get boosted if you’ve been vaccinated for more than six months with an mRNA, or two months with (Johnson & Johnson).”

He said the person who contracted the variant had not received a booster shot and got tested as soon as symptoms arose.

The World Health Organization classified omicron as a variant of concern on Friday due to preliminary evidence of mutations that could affect rate of transmission or severity of symptoms for it, The Daily Targum previously reported. The omicron variant had spread to at least 10 countries on Sunday and has been identified in 24 countries as of yesterday.

Fauci said more data should be available in two to three weeks regarding the variant’s characteristics.

Three federal health officials said the U.S. will soon require anyone coming into the country to get tested a day before their flight, according to an article from The Washington Post. The Biden Administration is also considering requiring that all travelers receive additional testing no more than three to five days after arrival and self-quarantine for a week regardless of test results.

For New Jersey, there are currently no immediate plans to reintroduce mandates or other such COVID-19 measures, said Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) Tuesday, according to an article from NJ Advance Media.

Though, Princeton University is now requiring all undergraduates to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week amid a renewed increase in cases in New Jersey and on-campus due to the omicron variant’s emergence.

University President Jonathan Holloway said Rutgers is waiting for more information regarding the omicron variant before it makes a decision on whether to implement additional COVID-19 measures, such as mandating booster shots for students, faculty and staff.

“The whole suite of possibilities is in front of us in terms of potentially mandating boosters,” Holloway said. “If that were to happen, it's easier legally to mandate it for students than for faculty and staff because it’s the way New Jersey State law is written. So, more to come.”


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