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Los Angeles County Reports Seventh Case of Omicron Variant

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The Los Angeles Department of Public Health has reported the finding of a seventh positive case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Saturday.

They indicated that the person was fully-vaccinated, and was recently traveling domestically before experiencing mild symptoms. That person is now self-isolating.

Close contacts within and outside Los Angeles County have been identified by Public Health, and COVID-19 tests were administered. While some still await their results, most of the tests have come back negative.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health, issued a statement on the recent finding:

"This latest case of the Omicron variant in Los Angeles County underscores how critical safety measures are while traveling. ... All indications are that among those fully vaccinated, illness severity if infected with Omicron is mild, reminding us that all eligible residents need to urgently get vaccinated or boosted.  The vaccines are likely to provide much needed protection against serious illness caused by Omicron and are already known to provide protection against infection and disease associated with the Delta variant that continues to dominate across the County."

Early on Saturday, Ferrer reminded locals that Los Angeles County is once again in the tier of "high transmission."

The first case of Omicron, found shortly before Thanksgiving, sparked a series of international closures to travelers - especially those from Africa, where the first cases were reported.

The Department of Public Health also reported that one of the cases - the fifth - was the result of local transmission as opposed to travel as with the other cases.

Omicron was first found in North America on November 29, and was located in California just days later.

The first case in Los Angeles County was identified on December 2, with additional cases filing in over the recent week.

The Omicron variant has been deemed a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization and the CDC. However, it remains unclear if the variant is more easily transmitted or can cause more severe illness. The previously identified Delta variant — blamed for the most recent surge in cases nationwide — remains the dominant mutation in circulation, representing more than 99% of all COVID specimens that have undergone genetic testing in the county, Ferrer said this week.

According to the most recent figures, 83% of county residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 75% are fully vaccinated. Of all eligible residents aged 5 and over, 77% have received at least one dose, and 69% are fully vaccinated.

Of the more than 6.15 million fully vaccinated people in the county, 84,931 have tested positive, or about 1.38%. A total of 2,798 vaccinated people have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.046%, and 537 have died, for a rate of 0.009%.

This comes amidst news of the daily rise of COVID-19 numbers in L.A. County, with over 700 individuals hospitalized due to the virus on Saturday.

The tally of seven positive Omicron cases doesn't include the recent positive case found in Long Beach County, bringing that total number in the immediate area around Los Angeles County to eight.

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