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January 2022
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International News
Vaccinated California man first in US to test positive for Omicron
 
WASHINGTON: A person in California who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 became the first in the United States to have an identified case of the Omicron variant, the White House announced Wednesday as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new virus strain.

Dr Anthony Fauci told reporters that the person was a traveller who returned from South Africa
on November 22 and tested positive on November 29. Fauci said the person was vaccinated but had not received a booster shot and was experiencing ``mild symptoms".

The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations.

``We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,'' Fauci said.

Officials said they had contacted everyone who had close contact with the person and they had all tested negative.
Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and the sequence was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking steps to tighten U.S. testing rules for travelers from overseas, including requiring a test for all travelers within a day of boarding a flight to the U.S. regardless of vaccination status. It was also considering mandating post-arrival testing.
Officials said those measures would only ``buy time'' for the country to learn more about the new variant and to take appropriate precautions, but that given its transmissibility its arrival in the US was inevitable.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious than previous strains, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine. Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said more would be known about the Omicron strain in two to four weeks as scientists grow and test lab samples of the virus.


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