The Louisiana Department of Health is reporting 13 additional cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Louisiana as of Wednesday afternoon.
The probable cases involve 9 individuals in Region 1 (Greater New Orleans area), 2 individuals in Region 2 (Baton Rouge area), and 2 individuals in Region 7 (Northwest). LDH says the total number of Omicron cases in Louisiana is now 17: 16 probable and 1 confirmed. The first confirmed Omicron case in Louisiana was identified on December 3. LDH reported 3 additional cases earlier Wednesday morning, including one in the Acadiana area involving an individual who traveled internationally. This individual didn't require hospitalization.
The CDC and LDH recommend everyone 5 years of age and older get vaccinated and that everyone 18 years of age and older get a booster if eligible. It is also more important than ever to use those public health tools we know work – mask according to applicable guidelines, practice good hand hygiene, and get tested and stay home if you feel sick.
On Nov. 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and has named it Omicron. This new variant was first reported to the WHO by government officials in South Africa. Since that time, it has been detected in 50 countries and more than 20 states.
Information is still emerging, but Omicron includes multiple mutations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome. There is concern that this new variant may be more transmissible than previous strains and that Omicron may carry an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants of concern. We expect to learn more about Omicron in the coming days.
LDH has established a network of laboratories to conduct genomic sequencing on positive SARS-CoV-2 specimens in order to track circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages, including newly emerging variants such as Omicron. Epidemiologists, laboratorians and researchers will continue to closely monitor these data in order to continue to identify Omicron cases in Louisiana.
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