Colorado has identified the first known case of the new omicron variant of COVID-19 in an Arapahoe County resident, but there is no evidence that the virus version is prevalent at this point and it is not yet known how high a risk the species poses. new.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment reported Thursday that the patient, an adult woman, has mild symptoms and is recovering at home. She had recently traveled to many countries in South Africa, where the variant was first identified.
Her test for COVID-19 was scored by the Tri-County Department of Health for genetic sequencing due to her recent trip. State Epidemiology Dr. Rachel Herlihy said the woman followed all of the public health guidelines, including wearing the mask while traveling and testing once she showed symptoms.
The woman had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and it had been quite some time since she had been eligible for a booster vaccine but she had not received one. People who were in close contact with him have been ordered to isolate, but none have turned out positive so far, according to state health officials.
Gov. Jared Polis said he “is not terribly alarmed” that a first omicron case has been found, but urged people to get vaccinated or get booster vaccines before it spreads. It remains largely unknown about the new variant, but indirect evidence suggests it may be more contagious than the delta variant, which currently dominates Colorado and much of the world.
“If we have a few weeks… let’s use it to protect ourselves,” he said.
Overall, the COVID-19 situation in Colorado seems to be slowly improving. Hospitalization for confirmed cases dropped to 1,400 on Thursday afternoon. Capacity remained tight, however, with only 67 intensive care beds and 399 general beds available nationwide.
Other metrics also showed some improvements. The average number of cases each day has continued to decline, although the decline has not been as great in recent days as it was last week. The number of active explosions also fell for the first time since mid-July, though it was only a drop of three.
The positivity rate raised a red flag that this wave may not be over. The percentage of positively returned tests recovered somewhat in recent days, as it fell slowly for most of November. It is too early to know if Thanksgiving rallies led to the increased spread of the virus and it is not clear what effect omicron may have if it spreads.
“Of course we are less worried about exceeding our hospital capacity than two weeks ago, but this virus continues to throw the ball after the screw,” Polis said.
The World Health Organization has classified omicron as a disturbing variant, although not much is yet known about the major threat it poses.
Mutations in the virus’ spike protein – the part that allows it to enter human cells – suggest it may be more contagious than previous variants and more difficult for the immune system to recognize, but it will take at least two weeks. to confirm if omicron really behaves. unlike previous variants.
California and Minnesota identified omicron cases before Colorado, and New York reported five cases Thursday afternoon. The Minnesota resident had not left the country, but had left traveled to a convention in New York, suggesting at least one spread has already occurred within the United States.
Experts have raised concerns whether the United States there is a clear picture of how far omicron may have spread because some parts of the country are doing far more testing than others. Colorado does more sequencing than most states.
As of Thursday afternoon, omicron had been located in 36 countries, on occasions not related to travel to Canada and six Western European countries, as well as to South Africa and Botswana. New information from the Netherlands indicates that the variant was already in Europe a week ago was confirmed in South Africa and raised the alarm.
The state Department of Health advises anyone who has traveled internationally to take a test that requires the genetic material of the virus three to five days after return. While rapid tests can tell you if you have the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the state cannot use them to determine which variant is causing your disease, Herlihy said.
COVID-19 cases have recently begun to rise in South Africa’s Gauteng province, which includes the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Herlihy said. The increase in cases, which coincides with finding omicron there, is indirect evidence that the variant can spread more easily, she said.
A South African doctor reported that her patients who had omicron generally had mild symptoms, but it is not clear if this reflects a change in the virus, Herlihy said. Many of the patients were in their 20s and most people in that age group have mild or moderate symptoms, she said.
It is also not clear if the immune system has a harder time detecting omicron, which would increase the chances of it gaining ground in people who have been vaccinated or cured of a previous version of the virus.
At this point, the World Health Organization expects people who have been vaccinated to still be protected from severe COVID-19, Herlihy said.
The state is listing about 15% of positive tests for COVID-19, as well as taking wastewater samples to find out which variants are in the community and how prevalent they are, Herlihy said.
Delta still accounts for almost all of the cases identified in Colorado, but at this point, precautions are the same for all variants: get vaccinated; get an amplifier, if you are right; wear a mask indoors; practice social distancing; and stay home, except to be tested or get medical attention if you feel sick.
“The strategies are the same,” she said.
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