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USC Student Has Omicron Variant After East Coast Holiday Travel. 3rd LA County Case Found In Traveler To West Africa

A student studies at a desk surrounded by books in the main library at the University College London on December 1, 2003 in London.
A student studies in the main library at the University College London.
(Ian Waldie
Getty Images)
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An L.A. County college student who recently returned from an East Coast holiday trip and another person who recently traveled to West Africa have tested positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said Monday.

That brings the number of omicron cases in L.A. County to three as of Monday evening.

The student who tested positive for the variant attends USC, according to a statement issued by the university Monday afternoon.

"USC can confirm the individual is a USC student who is currently isolating and doing well...The individual did not attend classes or organized activities on campus during their infectious period," read USC's update on the case.

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Close contacts of the student have been contacted and are quarantined.

The person who recently returned from West Africa "had mild symptoms and is self-isolating," according to county health officials.

So far, health officials said close contacts for that person "are fully vaccinated and have tested negative."

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health, said the latest case "underscores how critical safety measures are while traveling.”

In statement released when the news about the student was made public, Ferrer said:

“While we are still determining the transmissibility and the severity of omicron, I encourage residents and travelers to take additional steps to protect yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated or boosters, tested if you feel sick or are a close contact, and wearing your mask."

The student is fully vaccinated. Currently, they are experiencing mild symptoms.

“Layering on as many protections as possible will give us a better opportunity to slow the spread of this potentially dangerous variant as we prepare for holiday gatherings and a potential winter surge,” continued Ferrer in the DPH release.

On Dec. 1, the first U.S. case of the omicron variant was reported in California. The next day, Los Angeles had its first case. 

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Health officials are encouraging L.A. County residents who are planning to travel internationally or to areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates to get tested upon return. This same guidance is advised for residents who have attended gatherings or heavily attended events.

What questions do you have about vaccines?

Updated December 6, 2021 at 3:25 PM PST
The story has been updated to include information on where the student is enrolled and USC's statement.
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