STATEWIDE — The first confirmed case in Virginia of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified.
On Thursday, Dec. 9, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issued a release that announced that a sample collected from an adult resident of the Northwest Region of the Commonwealth tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529).
While the resident did not have a history of international travel, VDH did state that there was a history of domestic travel within the exposure period.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before we would record our first Omicron infection in the Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “This drives home the challenge the COVID-19 virus presents to the world as the virus changes and mutates over time. Scientists are hard at work studying the newly identified variant to understand how easily it spreads and how sick it makes people. Right now, the highly transmissible Delta variant is causing almost all cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. We have very effective vaccines that can interrupt the chain of transmission and reduce the odds that unpredictable mutations like the Delta and Omicron variants will emerge. Do your part. Get vaccinated if you are eligible. Get your booster shot if you’re eligible. Vaccination is how Virginia, the U.S. and the world will put this pandemic behind us.”
The Omicron variant was identified in Botswana and South Africa last month and was classified by the U.S. government through an interagency effort as a variant of concern on Dec. 1. As of the Dec. 9 VDH press release, there were 21 other U.S. states or jurisdictions in which the variant has been identified.
Once the commercial lab which identified Virginia’s first case of the Omicron variant was confirmed, it immediately contacted VDH.
VDH noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to work closely with state public health, academic, as well as commercial laboratories in order to “increase domestic strain surveillance capacity to sequence thousands of specimens every week.”
Health officials urge residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccination through a primary series and strongly encourage them to receive a booster. Those who are ages 5 years and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the continued wearing of face coverings, remaining six feet of social distancing, avoiding crowds, indoor areas with poor airflow, washing hands, and staying home if infected are also strongly recommended.
In addition to WYDaily’s weekly COVID-19 Tracker (which is published each Tuesday), please reference the following resources for more information:
- To learn more or to schedule an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, contact your healthcare provider or visit the website for Vaccinate Virginia.
- For more information regarding current vaccinations for COVID-19, visit the website for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- To find the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here.
- To see the current COVID-19 map courtesy of Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, click here.