Omicron variant of coronavirus detected in Georgia

Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. As the U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of the omicron variant, doctors across the country are experiencing a more imminent crisis with a delta variant that is sending record numbers of people to the hospital in New England and the Midwest. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Georgia’s public health agency said it has confirmed the first in-state case of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

The Department of Public Health said Sunday that the person had recently traveled from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, and developed mild symptoms of COVID-19. Genomic testing confirmed the person — who is isolating at home — was infected by the omicron variant, the agency said.

Public health officials are working to determine people who came in close contact and are at risk of infection, the department said.

More than a dozen states have identified the omicron variant of the coronavirus, and the list is growing near daily. Much remains unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.

While this is the first in-state Georgia case tracked to the variant, the Department of Public Health said it was notified Friday of a Georgia resident who was in New Jersey and tested positive for the omicron variant there.

Health officials urged Georgia residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they haven’t already and adults to get a booster dose if they were immunized at least six months ago.