Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitoring new COVID-19 Omicron variantThe CDC Roybal Campus. Source: CDC.gov
Atlanta, GA — The World Health Organization classified a new COVID-19 variant on Nov. 26, which was first reported to the WHO by South Africa. It is a variant of concern and has been named Omicron. No cases of the variant have been identified in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are grateful to the South African government and its scientists who have openly communicated with the global scientific community and continue to share information about this variant with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC,” a statement from the CDC says. “ We are working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more about this variant, as we continue to monitor its path.”
The CDC is monitoring variants and expects the Omicron variant to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.
The Georgia Department of Public Health is also monitoring the new variant and no cases have been detected in Georgia at this time, according to a press release.
Scientists are studying the variant to determine how quickly and easily it spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well the current COVID-19 vaccines will protect against it. So far, a few dozen COVID cases caused by Omicron have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium, according to Georgia DPH.
“What is known is that COVID vaccination helps stop transmission of infection which prevents new variants from emerging,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Vaccination is more important than ever with the emergence of this new variant and the holidays just around the corner.”
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Amid the discovery of the Omicron variant, the U.S. will restrict travel for non-U.S. citizens from South African and seven other countries beginning on Monday, as part of a global effort to mitigate the spread of the heavily mutated variance. Other countries include Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, CNBC reported.
The CDC continues to recommend people follow prevention strategies, such as wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, physically distancing from others, and washing hands frequently.
The CDC and Georgia DPH also recommend that everyone aged five and older get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC also encourages those who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.
To schedule a vaccine, visit https://myvaccinegeorgia.com/ or visit https://dph.georgia.gov/locations/covid-vaccination-site to find a vaccination site.
The DeKalb County Board of Health is offering COVID-19 testing. To sign up for a test, click here.
Some drugstores such as CVS or Walgreens also offer COVID-19 testing but have varied waiting and result times and particular qualifications for each site. You may also be able to get tested at your doctor’s office.
The state of Georgia has a coronavirus hotline.
According to the Department of Public Health, “If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Hotline: (844) 442-2681.”
Coronavirus symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure and include:
– Shortness of breath
The CDC says the following symptoms require emergency medical attention:
– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
– Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
– New confusion or inability to arouse
– Bluish lips or face
Here are the recommendations on coronavirus prevention from the DeKalb County Board of Health:
– Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.
– Wear a mask in public.
– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
– Stay home when you are sick.
– Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.
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