ATLANTA (WSAV) — The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) said in a press release Sunday, it identified the first case of the omicron variant in the Peach State.
The person developed mild symptoms after recently returning from South Africa. They remain isolated at home and contract tracing is ongoing, DPH says. This marks the first reported in-state case of omicron.
Friday, DPH was notified of a Georgia resident who tested positive for the variant after traveling to South Africa, then returning to Georgia for two days, and then traveling to New Jersey — where the test was performed.
Much remains unknown about the emerging variant but experts say it’s more mutated than previous variants, could carry different symptoms and could possibly spread easier. It’s also unclear how effective current COVID-19 vaccines will be in deterring infection, hospitalization and death.
Experts continue to urge vaccination, saying it remains the best method to fend off omicron.
“Vaccination is key to preventing further transmission of COVID-19 and helps prevent new variants like Omicron from emerging,” says Kathleen E. Toomey, commissioner of the DPH. “It also is important to remember that even as Omicron is emerging, we are still in the midst of a pandemic currently being fueled by the Delta variant.”
All Georgians age 5 and up are eligible for COVID vaccines, and adults — either six months past their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or two months beyond their single-dose J&J jab — are eligible for boosters, DPH said.
The CDC continues to encourage masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing to further prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.