(Placerville, CA) — El Dorado County Public Health has received its first report of a confirmed case of COVID-19 identified as the Omicron variant. "This was not unexpected," says El Dorado County Public Health Officer, Dr. Nancy Williams. "The variant has already been detected in at least 25 U.S. states, including California. Since the first case involving a California resident (which was also the first in the U.S.) was identified on December 1, 2021, in a traveler who had returned from South Africa on November 22, several other California counties have identified cases among their residents."
The Omicron variant was first declared to be a COVID-19 variant of concern on November 26, 2021, by the World Health Organization following discovery of numerous cases in South Africa. The El Dorado County case occurred in a traveler who departed from South Africa in late November. The county resident tested negative at the time of departure and was asymptomatic, developed mild symptoms and tested positive several days after completing travel. Because travelers from South Africa were being monitored for this variant and instructed to quarantine or isolate, the risk of this case resulting in additional cases was minimized. "To date, we have no evidence of community transmission of the Omicron variant in El Dorado County. However, because it is believed to be more easily transmitted than prior variants, including the currently dominant Delta variant, we are likely to see other cases in the future," said Dr. Williams.
While early data indicates that Omicron causes milder disease, it's important to continue to protect against acquiring infection or transmitting it to others. Dr. Williams emphasized that this variant evolved, as prior ones have, through mutations that occurred while the virus replicated in an infected person's body. "Allowing the virus opportunities to continue to mutate through infections of others increases the probabilities of further mutations and, undoubtedly, more new variants. We won't be able to stop this entirely, but to reach a state of living that is closer to normal, we need to slow transmission of all COVID-19 variants," said Dr. Williams.
According to Dr. Williams, vaccination remains the most important tool to protect against serious COVID-19 illnesses. Continuing to take other precautions is also important, especially during the holiday season when people spend more time indoors, and sometimes in large gatherings, with family members and friends who may have traveled to or from places with high COVID rates.
For more information about the Omicron Variant, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/omicron-variant.html
For information about finding and making vaccination appointments, visit: https://myturn.ca.gov/
# # #