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COVID-19 Omicron variant causing concern: here’s what it could mean locally

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A new variant of COVID-19 has been detected. It’s called Omicron Variant. Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek Alphabet. The World Health Organization started calling variants by Greek letters to reduce negative connotations of regions where the variants were first detected. 

As of Monday morning, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) states there has not been any detection of the Omicron variant in California nor the United States. However, two cases have been detected in Canada. Ottawa Public Health officials said the two individuals recently visited Nigeria.

The World Health Organization said it was not yet clear whether Omicron, first detected in Southern Africa, is more transmissible than other variants, or if it causes more severe disease.

CDPH officials state California and the United States are monitoring and preparing for possible spread. They are preparing to increase COVID-19 testing at airports across California for U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. And are focusing on vaccinating and boosting those eligible. Right now anyone 5 years old and up can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Monday in a press conference President Joe Biden said, “If you’re 18-years or over and got fully vaccinated before June the First, go get the booster shot today.”

President Biden added, “This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. We have the best vaccines in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists and we’re learning more every single day. And we will fight this variant with scientific and knowledgable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”

To get a COVID-19 vaccine or a booster shot go to MyTurn.ca.gov. To signup for a free COVID-19 test visit here.

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.

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