Minnesota sees first case of Omicron COVID-19 variant

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:15 AM CST
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HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. (KTTC) – Lab testing confirms that Minnesota has seen its first positive case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Thursday morning that its Public Health Laboratory found the COVID-19 variant known as Omicron in a specimen from a Minnesota resident with recent travel history to New York City.

The person with the Omicron variant is reported to be an adult male of Hennepin County, and has been vaccinated. The person reported traveling to New York City to attend the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21. The person developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and was tested for COVID-19 on Nov. 24.

The person was advised to isolate from others and symptoms have since resolved.

The variant was found through the MDH variant surveillance program, which is one of strongest surveillance programs in the nation. This program allowed MDH to quickly identify Omicron once it entered Minnesota, making it more likely that Minnesota would be among the first states to identify the variant.

Governor Tim Walz released a statement Thursday morning with his remarks about the first Omicron case in Minnesota.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Minnesota’s nation-leading genome sequencing infrastructure and strong testing network have allowed the state to quickly track the COVID-19 virus and better understand its spread. Today, those tools detected a case of the Omicron variant in Minnesota.”

“This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise. We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now—get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep Minnesotans safe.”

Scientists are still working to determine how the Omicron variant compares to the Delta variant in terms of transmissibility and disease severity, and how existing vaccines protect against Omicron.

Minnesota epidemiologists will continue to investigate in collaboration with New York City and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health officials continue to urge people to take the following steps to protect against COVID-19, including variants like Omicron:

  • Get vaccinated and if eligible get a booster. To find a vaccine near you, visit Find my vaccine.
  • Wear well-fitting masks in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, have traveled as per guidelines or have been in a setting where you may have been exposed.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Stay away from crowds.
  • Improve ventilation in your home and workplace.
  • Take extra care to avoid exposure to the virus if you have medical conditions or live with someone with medical conditions.

Find more information and the news release here.

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