The first confirmed case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant in the United States has been detected in a person in California, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.
"The individual was a traveller who returned from South Africa on November 22, 2021," the agency said.
"The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative."
The case was detected by the California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health and confirmed by the CDC.
"We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of Omicron would be detected in the United States," Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, said at the White House.
Fauci urged all Americans who were vaccinated more than six months ago to get their booster shots and follow all of the guidance from public health officials from wearing masks at indoor gatherings to getting children vaccinated.
The Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa and has been designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation.
Scientists do not yet have hard data, but based on the variant's pattern of mutations, it is expected to at least partly evade the protective action of current vaccines, and may be more transmissible than Delta, the dominant global strain.
The US is planning tougher testing and quarantine requirements for international travellers arriving in the country, including taking a Covid-19 test one day prior to departure, the CDC said on Wednesday. (AFP/AP)
First US Omicron case identified in California
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