The first known case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in Texas was detected in Harris County Monday, according to state health officials.
The person who tested positive is a woman in her 40s from Northwest Harris County who had no recent travel history, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted.
The omicron variant, or B.1.1.529, was first identified last month in South Africa and appears to spread more easily between people than most strains of COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“It is normal for viruses to mutate, and given the speed with which Omicron has spread in southern Africa, we are not surprised that it is showing up here,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr John Hellerstedt, in a press release. “Get vaccinated and continue to use prevention strategies, including wearing a mask when you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, hand washing, and testing when you have symptoms , will help slow the spread of the virus and end the pandemic. “
DSHS officials said the vaccination was still supposed to offer protection against hospitalization and death.
Preliminary data on the severity of the omicron variant of COVID-19 is “a little encouraging,” White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday following the first figures from South Africa which suggest that it may not be as bad as it started off. feared.
However, Fauci warned that more data was needed to paint a full picture of omicron’s risk profile. The World Health Organization said the variant was “of concern” on November 26, prompting a wave of international travel bans and new COVID-19 restrictions.