VDH identifies first case of omicron COVID-19 variant in Virginia

Posted at 6:05 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 10:46:42-05

The Virginia Department of Health announced Thursday that the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 omicron variant has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of the northwest region of Virginia.

According to the VDH, the patient had no history of international travel, but did have a history of domestic travel during the exposure period.

The omicron variant was first identified in Botswana and South Africa in November 2021, and may spread more easily than other variants, including delta.

At this time, there is no evidence that infection with this variant causes more severe disease, but there is evidence that persons who have previously had COVID-19 might be at greater risk for reinfection with omicron.

"We knew this would be a matter of time," said Dr. Parham Jaberi, the acting health director for Norfolk Department of Health.

Dr. Jaberi says there's no need to panic.

"It’s a new variant of COVID and a lot of the same symptoms. The good news is it doesn’t look like it’s causing severe disease than the delta variant," Dr. Jaberi tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head.

He warns the omicron variant is less threatening than other variants.

"The delta variant is still the main issue, the main threat."

The major question is: Will COVID-19 vaccines protect against this new variant?

"Even if it doesn’t work against this variant, it’s going to give you some protection, which is much better than not having any protection," Jaberi said.

To date, the omicron variant has been identified in 21 other U.S. states or jurisdictions.

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