BOSTON (CBS) -- The Omicron coronavirus variant has been found in a Massachusetts woman, the Department of Public Health announced Saturday.
The woman, who is in her 20s, is a resident of Middlesex County who traveled out of state. The woman was fully vaccinated and did not require hospitalization.
The arrival of Omicron - called a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization - comes as Massachusetts experiences its highest number of coronavirus cases since January.
The first U.S. case of Omicron was detected in California on Wednesday, and multiple states have reported cases of the variant since then. President Joe Biden has announced steps to tackle Omicron and the ongoing Delta surge, including stricter testing requirements for international travelers, ordering insurance companies to cover at-home COVID tests and setting up family vaccine clinics to encourage vaccination.
Health officials say the majority of Omicron cases appear to be mild so far, but there's also concern that the variant's significant number of mutations could escape antibody protection, especially from those who had a previous COVID infection. Scientists are working to determine how effective vaccines are against the new variant.
"It's going to take time, at least a couple of weeks to get a clearer picture of whether Omicron is more contagious, more dangerous, and more resistant to the vaccines," WBZ-TV's Dr. Mallika Marshall says. "In the meantime, the best way to protect yourself against Omicron, Delta, or other COVID variants is to get vaccinated. And if you're already vaccinated, get a booster."
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