First case of omicron variant in Georgia confirmed

ATLANTA — The first confirmed case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 was reported by the Georgia Department of Public Health on Sunday.

The individual had recently traveled from South Africa and developed mild symptoms, according to the report. The patient tested positive for COVID-19 and was later confirmed to have the omicron variant through genetic sequencing. The individual is isolated at home and the DPH is conducting contact tracing, the report said.

It was not immediately known if the person was vaccinated.

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While this is the first confirmed case in the state, last week a Georgia resident was confirmed to have the omicron variant while traveling in New Jersey. That woman also had recently traveled from South Africa and was vaccinated.

The New Jersey Department of Health said the woman had experienced moderate symptoms and is now recovering after receiving care in a North Jersey emergency department.

“Vaccination and boosters are key to preventing further transmission of COVID-19 and help prevent new variants like omicron from emerging,” said Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Only 51% of Georgians are fully vaccinated and of those individuals less than 20% have received booster doses.”

Everyone over the age of 5 is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, and boosters are recommended for anyone over 18 who received their second dose at least six months ago.

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Omicron is classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern” as scientists work to determine how it may compare with the predominant delta variant in terms of transmissibility and severity. Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.

Scientists in South Africa first reported it, but the samples came from several countries in southern Africa. And health officials in the Netherlands now say it was found there prior to the South Africa detection.

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To find a COVID vaccine or COVID testing location, visit dph.ga.gov.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report