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Georgia DPH: Omicron variant detected in Georgia
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The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant in Georgia, according to a press release by the DPH. 

The Omicron variant was initially detected in southern Africa and up until recently had not yet been detected in the United States. According to the release, the individual who was confirmed to have it in Georgia had traveled from South Africa. 

“The individual recently traveled from South Africa and developed mild symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,” the release said. “Genomic sequencing confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant.” 

According to the release, the individual is isolating at home and contact tracing is underway to identify who was in close contact with the individual and may be at risk of infection. This is the first in-state case of Omicron that has been detected, the release said, although on Dec. 3 the DPH was notified of a Georgia resident currently in New Jersey who tested positive for the variant. 

Scientists are continuing to study the Omicron variant to determine how quickly and easily it spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well the current COVID-19 vaccines can protect against it.

“Vaccination is key to preventing further transmission of COVID-19 and helps prevent new variants like Omicron from emerging,” Georgia DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey said in the release. “It also is important to remember that even as Omicron is emerging, we are still in the midst of a pandemic currently being fueled by the Delta variant.” 

According to the release, all Georgians over age five are now eligible for the vaccine, and booster shots of the vaccine are recommended for adults 18 and older who completed their first series of vaccines at least six months ago. The CDC continues to recommend general prevention measures like wearing a mask in public, staying six feet away from others, avoiding large crowds and frequent hand washing. 

The DPH will continue to monitor Omicron developments and provide updates to the public as new information becomes available, the release said. To locate a COVID-19 vaccine or testing location near you, go to dph.ga.gov