April 14, 2024


Unlimited Technology

What we know about the first case of omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Middlesex County

BOSTON (AP) — A woman in her 20s who had traveled out of state is the first known case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus detected in Massachusetts, the state Department of Public House announced Saturday.

Genetic sequencing confirmed the variant, officials said. The unidentified woman — a resident of Middlesex County — is fully vaccinated, has experienced mild disease, and did not require hospitalization according to the state health department.

Much remains unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.

COVID vaccines: Demand for COVID-19 vaccine exceeds supply on Cape — again

News of the arrival of the omicron variant comes as the state has experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Charlie Baker last week announced an emergency order requiring any hospital or hospital system facing limited patient capacity to reduce non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures.

As of Friday, there were more than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Massachusetts and more than 190 in intensive care units.

SEARCHABLE DATABASE: Massachusetts COVID-19 Hospital Capacity

SEARCHABLE DATABASE: Massachusetts COVID-19 Case Trajectory

More than 19,000 people in Massachusetts have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases: Leaders say ‘no need to panic’ as omicron confirmed in more states; Connecticut passes grim COVID death milestone: updates

What precautions can people take now to protect again omicron?

“The recent emergence of the omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19,” declares the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Everyone 5 and older should get vaccinated, and boosters are recommended for everyone 18 years and older.”

State health officials urged residents to take the steps already available to protect themselves against COVID-19. Including getting vaccinated and receiving a booster shot when they are eligible.

The vaccine is free, and no ID or insurance is required for vaccination. A list of vaccination locations is available at vaxfinder.mass.gov. There are over 1,000 locations across the Commonwealth to get vaccinated or receive a booster.

Here’s what MassNotify is and how to use it

Residents are also urged to enable MassNotify on their smartphone. The service can be accessed through both Android and iPhone settings; it is NOT an application that can be obtained through an app store.

This private and anonymous service notifies users of a potential exposure to COVID-19 so they may take the appropriate precautions. For more information and instructions on enabling MassNotify on your smartphone, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/learn-more-about-massnotify.

What is the COVID omicron variant?

The first U.S. case, on Dec. 1, involved an unidentified person who traveled from South Africa, where the variant was first identified on Nov. 22. That person tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 29.

Scientists know that the new variant is genetically distinct from previous variants, including the beta and delta variants, but do not know whether those genetic changes make it any more transmissible or dangerous. So far, there is no indication the variant causes more severe disease.

Understanding omicron: How the latest coronavirus variant, now in the US, is mutating and spreading

Brown University School of Public Health epidemiologist Mark Lurie said, “I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, but I wouldn’t be surprised if within the next several weeks it is present in almost every state in the United States.”

With omicron already here: Here’s what US labs are doing to track cases and stop its spread

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Omicron coronavirus variant detected in Massachusetts

Source News