First U.S. Omicron Case Reported in California

Patient was a traveler, apparently from the San Francisco area, who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The first confirmed U.S. case of the omicron variant has been reported in California, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

The patient was a traveler, apparently from the San Francisco area, who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, the CDC said in a statement. The person, who was fully vaccinated, developed mild COVID-19 symptoms that are improving, the CDC said. Genome sequencing at the University of California, San Francisco, identified the person's infection as being caused by the omicron variant, and the CDC has confirmed it.

"The individual is self-quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted, and all close contacts thus far have tested negative," Anthony Fauci, M.D., President Biden's chief medical adviser, said during a media briefing Wednesday afternoon. "We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States."

As a result, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that the state is increasing COVID-19 testing at its airports for arrivals from countries identified by the CDC.

"We recognize that everyone is exhausted, and the news of a new variant can be overwhelming," the CDPH/San Francisco Health Department said in a joint statement. "It is important that we collectively focus on the things we know prevent the spread of COVID-19, and its variants. Individuals should (1) get vaccinated and boosted; (2) wear your mask in indoor settings; (3) get tested if you have symptoms; and (4) stay home if you are sick."

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