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COVID: Omicron Variant Has Some Bay Area Families Revising Holiday Travel Plans

SAN FEANCISCO (KPIX) -- Just as the Thanksgiving holiday wraps up, we are now hearing about a new coronavirus variant, Omicron.

At this point, the Omicron variant hasn't been found here in the Bay Area but many in the medical field say it's only a matter of time, most likely in the next couple of weeks.

Frank and Teresa Muscat are visiting from Rhode Island.

"We have not seen the family and that's the heartbreaking part," says Teresa.

They were finally able to see family again this Thanksgiving but now they're concerned about the new variant first detected in South Africa.

"When is this going to end. It seems like it keeps getting legs and continuing," says Fred.

Researchers want to know how transmissible Omicron is, how sick it can make you and how well it holds up to vaccines.

Dr. George Rutherford, an UCSF Epidemiologist says, "We have a lot of work to do to figure out kind of where we are exactly and how this might tip the apple cart one way or the other."

Dr. Rutherford says so far, there are signs that this variant may be more infectious than the Delta. As for scaling back your Christmas plans, he doesn't advise that just yet.

"If they're traveling to South Africa to go on a safari, yes, they should change their plans but short of that, I don't think at this point in time, there's not a lot of need to change their plans," says Dr. Rutherford.

Still, some say they are concerned and are rethinking their family get togethers.

"I was planning on going up north visiting a bunch of family but it might just be a stay at home Christmas this year," says Morgan Genelly of Marin.

So far in South Africa, toddlers age two and under make up 10% of the hospitalizations, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases. The age group that are unable to be vaccinated.
And with just over 20% of South Africans vaccinated, Dr. Rutherford says it's critical to send millions of doses to those countries to contain these variants.

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