LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — On Thursday night, officials announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in Los Angeles County.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said that the infected individual is currently self-isolating and "their symptoms are improving without medical care."
Public health officials believe that the infection is travel-related after the Los Angeles County resident who returned from a trip to South Africa via London on Nov. 22.
According to the press release, the individual was fully-vaccinated. All of the patients' close contacts are also in isolation and have tested negative so far.
"Throughout the pandemic, we have always known there would be more mutations, resulting in the possibility of a more dangerous variant than the Delta variant," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. "While we can't know for certain the impact of Omicron at this time, the good news is that we already know how to reduce transmission and slow spread using both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions. I encourage everyone to take the steps that we know offer protection, including getting vaccinated or boosted, tested if you feel sick or are a close contact, and wearing your mask indoors and at large mega events."
Ferrer added that those with travel plans may want to reconsider plans once more information is available about the new variant.
Officials pushed for residents to get their vaccine or booster to protect themselves during the holiday season. They also encouraged residents to test before traveling or going to events and gatherings with large amounts of people.
Officials also announced that free rapid COVID-19 tests will be given to international travelers arriving at the LAX international terminal.
To fight the Omicron variant, President Joe Biden plans to require international passengers on airlines to show a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departure instead of three days and to require health insurers to pay for at-home tests.
"The at-home tests are a great screening tool to use," said Dr. Angelique Campen from Saint Joseph Medical Center. "they do not replace the PCR tests or the laboratory tests but they are an excellent screening tool.
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