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COVID-19 Omicron Variant Arrives In Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - The first known Texas case of the COVID-19 omicron variant has been identified in a resident of Harris County.

The patient in her 40s was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to a tweet from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the patient had no recent travel history.

Results of genetic sequencing this week showed that the infection was caused by the omicron variant strain, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday night, Dec. 6.

The case is being investigated by Harris County Public Health and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

"It's normal for viruses to mutate, and given how quickly Omicron spread in southern Africa, we're not surprised that it showed up here," said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. "Getting vaccinated and continuing to use prevention strategies, including wearing a mask when you are around people you don't live with, social distancing, handwashing and getting tested when you have symptoms, will help slow the spread of the virus and help end the pandemic."

The B.1.1.529 variant was identified in South Africa last month and appears to spread more easily from person to person than most strains of the coronavirus.

Currently, it is unclear if the omicron variant is associated with more severe disease. Studies have commenced to determine how effective vaccines are expected to be against infection. However, vaccination is expected to continue to offer protection against hospitalization and death.

Omicron is thought to be responsible for a small proportion of the current COVID-19 cases in Texas and the United States.

Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19.

Everyone 5 years and older is eligible for vaccination, and everyone 18 years and older should get a booster shot when they are eligible, DSHS said.

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