First Omicron Variant case confirmed in Hennepin County

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 6:11 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The first Omicron Variant case has been confirmed in Minnesota Thursday.

“While this is not an unexpected development, I don’t think anybody thought we’d be back here this soon,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

Health experts say the Omicron Variant is more contagious than the Delta Variant, but patients who contract the strain are experiencing milder symptoms.

“While this is clearly something to take seriously, Omicron’s development around the world, it is not a reason to panic. With the other new variants we have managed we’re at a stage where there is still a lot we need to learn about Omicron,” Malcolm said.

The patient is an adult male who was fully vaccinated including a booster he received in early November. He recently traveled on a plane to New York City for a convention and developed mild symptoms on November 22 and got tested for COVID two days later on November 24.

“This individual has been extremely cooperative and has isolated and done all of those things that we would ask someone to do from a public health mitigation standpoint,” Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said.

State health experts attribute the quick detection to Minnesota’s robust virus surveillance system.

“I think the key to our system is that is it broad, it’s vast, but we still have the ability to pivot and focus where we need to,” Public Health Laboratory Assistant Director Sara Vetter said.

Currently, there are less than ten positive tests in the state awaiting sequencing to determine if they contain the Omicron strain, and we should know those results in a matter of days.

“When we’ve talked about shifting our surveillance and the way we’re doing it to be more nimble, this is an example of that that we’re able to focus on things like this type of case and put our energy there,” Ehresmann said.

They say the Omicron Variant is another reminder that the pandemic is not over yet.

“We do hope that this additional news just underscores the urgency of paying attention to the fact that COVID is still very much still with us and that we have the tools to fight back against it,” Malcolm said.

There is one other person that this patient came into contact with that is currently isolating. Right now, Minnesota is testing around 2,000 positive cases to see if they contain the Omicron strain.

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