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Omicron variant discovered in Minnesota

Nation's second confirmed case in Hennepin County

David Colburn
Posted 12/2/21

REGIONAL- The omicron COVID-19 variant has been discovered in Minnesota, state health officials confirmed Thursday morning.

An omicron variant case has been identified as an adult male from …

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Omicron variant discovered in Minnesota

Nation's second confirmed case in Hennepin County

Posted

REGIONAL- The omicron COVID-19 variant has been discovered in Minnesota, state health officials confirmed Thursday morning.

An omicron variant case has been identified as an adult male from Hennepin County who traveled to New York City for the Anime NYC convention Nov. 19-21 with over 50,000 people in attendance. The person developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and sought testing on Nov. 24. The individual has no history of international travel.

In a Thursday morning press conference, State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the individual’s symptoms have been resolved, and that this is a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

“The primary vaccination was more than six months ago. The individual was boosted in early November,” Malcom said. “It seems most likely the transmission occurred at the convention in New York City, but that’s not definitive.”

The case was detected through the state’s COVID surveillance program, which does advanced genetic sequencing on about 2,000 PCR COVID test samples per week. State laboratory director Sara Vetter said that the omicron-positive sample was among a handful of tests selected for review because they showed a specific marker that is associated with the omicron variant. This was the only one of the samples the lab tested that was positive for omicron, Vetter said. Other samples have been sent to commercial labs, and those results should be known in the next few days, she said.

Kris Ehresmann, state infectious disease director, noted that the timing of events confirms that the omicron variant has been actively spreading well before South African health officials identified and reported it.

“The individual returned from their travel to NYC, and that was before Thanksgiving,” she said. “This individual’s illness started on Nov. 22. The timing is that this case was getting ill even before we were hearing about omicron from South Africa.”

“This is a very interconnected world, and this shows a global pandemic is just that,” Malcolm said.

As of Thursday morning, 34 countries have reported at least one confirmed omicron-variant case, according to a BNO News tracking website.

While omicron is classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, scientists are still working to determine how it may compare with the predominant Delta variant in terms of transmissibility and disease severity. Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.

“We’re at a state where there’s still a lot we need to learn about omicron,” Malcolm said. “While this is clearly something to take seriously, it is not a reason for panic. What we do know already, without the research, is how to slow the spread of COVID-19. We feel like we’ve got the tools to be able to manage this and stay ahead of it. Further regulatory approaches are not on the table at this point. If people get vaccinated, boosted, and take those other precautions, we would prefer that.”

Malcolm encouraged people to follow the layered prevention protocols long emphasized by health officials of masking in public indoor environments, getting tested at the first sign of symptoms, staying home when feeling ill, getting vaccinated, and getting booster shots.

Gov. Tim Walz also reinforced following known protocols in a Thursday morning press release.

“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.”

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  • snowshoe2

    Get the shot, save a life, if you care about others.

    Friday, December 3, 2021 Report this