VDH closely monitoring emergence of omicron variant

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 5:40 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 17:40:46-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The Virginia Department of Health says they are closely monitoring the emergence of the omicron variant.

No cases of the variant have been reported anywhere in the United States as of date, but two cases were recently reported in Canada.

Emerging variants such as omicron are expected and maybe soon detected in the United States and Virginia, according to the VDH.

In partnership with the Department of General Services’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), VDH will continue to actively monitor SARS-CoV-2 viral samples from Virginia to identify circulating and new variants. They will also work with the CDC to remain informed on all variants.

“Once again, we see how unpredictable viruses can be. Viruses change and mutate all the time, and as we learn more about this new variant, we need to continue taking precautions to reduce infections,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “We all want this pandemic to end. Please, if you haven’t been vaccinated already and are eligible, get vaccinated. And if you are eligible for a booster, please get your booster as soon as you can. Please continue to do those things that we know can help reduce virus transmission, such as wearing a face mask, social distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home if you are sick, and getting tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you have had a known exposure to someone with COVID-19.”

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“In Virginia, we are fortunate to have a robust genetic sequencing program to determine quickly whether variants of concern are circulating in our communities,” said Dr. Denise Toney, Ph.D. (HCLD), director of DCLS, the state’s public health laboratory. “Our network of laboratories throughout the Commonwealth is committed to sequencing as many positive samples as possible.”

The VDH says vaccination remains the most important tool in fighting the pandemic. Everyone in Virginia who is age 5 or older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now. VDH also recommends that eligible individuals who are age 18 and older should receive booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

VDH also recommends wearing a mask in indoor public places in areas of substantial or high community transmission, getting tested if you suspect exposure or have symptoms, and staying home when you are sick.