The Minnesota Department of Health announced on Dec. 2 that a fully vaccinated man who recently traveled to New York City has tested positive for the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“The person with the Omicron variant is an adult male, is a resident of Hennepin County, and had been vaccinated,” the department said in a statement.
The variant, the agency stated, was detected via a surveillance program. The person developed mild COVID-19 symptoms on Nov. 22 that have resolved, even before the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was investigating the variant.
The individual then sought testing two days later, according to the Department of Health. Officials said the man had traveled to the New York City Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center between Nov. 19 and Nov. 21.
“We still have more to learn about Omicron, but the most important thing we can do right now is to use the tools we have available to make it as hard as possible for this virus to spread,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a Dec. 2 statement.
Malcolm added that “we can slow the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the tried-and-true prevention methods of wearing masks, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.”
Earlier this week, officials in California said the first Omicron case was detected in the United States. That person is in good condition and is being treated at a San Francisco hospital, authorities said.
San Francisco health officer Dr. Susan Philip told reporters on Dec. 2 that “this first individual is doing well” and there are no signs that the variant was transmitted in the area.
Neither the California nor Minnesota patients’ identities, including their ages, have been disclosed.
“We’re so happy to hear that and they absolutely contributed to our understanding in San Francisco, and nationally, because they came to our attention, they reported their symptoms and they called us at public health so that we could start the laboratory process to detect the first case in the U.S.,” Philip told CNN.
Around the world, no deaths have been associated with the new variant, and some health officials in South Africa and Israel said that Omicron patients are showing only mild symptoms. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. health officials have said that more data is needed to determine whether the variant can breach vaccines or natural immunity gained via a previous infection, or whether its symptoms are more severe than the Delta or Alpha CCP virus variants.
In a statement over the past weekend, WHO said the variant appears to be highly transmissible, although the agency has cautioned against issuing unilateral travel bans on certain countries.
Previously, CDC and White House officials said that the federal government would deploy more COVID-19 surveillance measures at four major U.S. airports following the emergence of the variant. They are Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and San Francisco International Airport, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters.