NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) announced today the state’s first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant named Omicron (B.1.1.529).

Image/Robert Herriman

“Although there is much we still need to learn about this new variant, we do know the best tool currently available to protect ourselves from COVID-19 is personal prevention. I urge Missourians to seek information on the Omicron variant from DHSS and trusted medical sources opposed to social media,” said Donald Kauerauf, DHSS Director. “We also encourage Missourians to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and staying informed this holiday season as this new variant is investigated further.”

DHSS was notified by public health partners of a sample presumed positive for the Omicron variant originating from a St. Louis City resident who had recent domestic travel history. The sample was originally sequenced as part of commercial laboratory surveillance and results are currently awaiting confirmation by the CDC.

“The Delta variant is still the predominant variant present in Missouri, currently representing well over 99 percent of the cases. Citizens are urged to complete their vaccination series for COVID-19 and get their booster,” said Kauerauf.

Missouri is the ninth US state to report a case– California, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, Nebraska, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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On November 24, 2021, South Africa reported the identification of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529, to the World Health Organization (WHO). B.1.1.529 was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021 in Botswana and on November 14, 2021 in South Africa. South Africa has since detected B.1.1.529 in specimens collected on November 8, 2021.

Last Friday, the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a Variant of Concern (VOC), and WHO designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC named Omicron.

In addition, it has been reported in some 40 countries. Some countries have reported cases in individuals without travel history to southern Africa.