3 cases of omicron variant now confirmed in L.A. County

Local news

Two more cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant was confirmed in Los Angeles Count Monday, bringing the countywide total to three.

The first of the two new cases was reported in the morning and involved an infected college student who returned to the region after traveling for a holiday on the East Coast.

The individual is fully vaccinated, has mild symptoms and is self isolating, L.A. County public health officials said in a news release.

Close contacts in L.A. County have been identified, are quarantining and are being tested.

Additionally, health officials are working with the university where the individual is a student to determine if there are any other close contacts.

The person likely became infected outside of L.A. County, based on travel history, officials said. No further details about the individual or the case were released.

The infected person is a student at USC, The Daily Trojan reported, citing the university’s Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman.

Then, on Monday evening, the county confirmed that a third person was infected with the new variant. The fully vaccinated patient, who had recently traveled in West Africa, experienced mild symptoms and is in isolation, according to health officials.

“This latest case of the Omicron variant in Los Angeles County underscores how critical safety measures are while traveling,” county health director Barbara Ferrer said in a news release. “These requirements include a negative test before boarding your flight, wearing a mask, and not traveling while you are sick. Residents should also consider delaying travel until their and all of their traveling companions are fully vaccinated.”

The first reported case of the omicron variant in L.A. County was detected and confirmed last week, after a San Francisco resident was identified as the first known case of the variant in the U.S.

The variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa and designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. It has now been detected in several countries and carries mutations that may impact infectiousness, prompting swift travel restrictions across international borders.

A rapid COVID-19 testing site opened at the international terminal of LAX after the first case was reported locally.

And, starting Monday, travelers heading to the U.S. will be required to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 within one day of boarding their flight instead of three days prior.

Local health experts continue urging residents to get inoculated against COVID-19 and encourage those who qualify to receive a booster shot as well. Officials are especially concerned over a possible winter surge amid the variant.

“While we are still determining the transmissibility and the severity of omicron, I encourage residents and travelers to take additional steps to protect yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated or boosters, tested if you feel sick or are a close contact, and wearing your mask,” Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public health director said in the news release. “Layering on as many protections as possible will give us a better opportunity to slow the spread of this potentially dangerous variant as we prepare for holiday gatherings and a potential winter surge.” 

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