The CDC has confirmed the first U.S. case of the new, heavily mutated coronavirus variant called omicron, which was detected in Northern California.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the patient, who was fully vaccinated, had just returned to the San Francisco area November 22 after traveling in South Africa and tested positive Novevember 29.
“The individual is self-quarantining, and all close contacts have been contacted and … 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.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said genomic sequencing was initially conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, and the CDC confirmed the omicron variant.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung from a 520-point gain for the day to a loss of more than 461 points after the CDC confirmed the case.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom cautioned residents on Twitter, saying, “There’s no reason to panic — but we should remain vigilant. That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”
At a press briefing yetsterday afternoon, Newsom said the patients is between 18 and 49 and had not received a booster shot because they were not six months ouut from their original vaccination course.
“There’s more panic than information around this new variant,” Newsom said, adding that everyone needs to be more vigilant but that lockdowns are not under consideration. “I think we can communicate so we can avoid any shutdowns, we can avoid shutting down our schools or businesses. None of us want to see that happen.”
Since South Africa first reported the variant to the World Health Organization a week ago, it’s been found in Canada, the U.K., Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong, among other places. World leaders are on high alert, worried the virus is already widely seeded across the globe.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that omicron has been reported in at least 23 countries.