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Omicron Variant Has Not Arrived In California, But Officials Are Watching

A health care worker in white short-sleeved scrubs a blue mask and face shield uses a needle in the upper arm of a woman holding back her right sleeve with her left hand.
Personal care assistant Riza Green receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Carefield Assisted Living Facility in Castro Valley on Feb. 3, 2021.
(Anne Wernikoff
/
CalMatters)
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The WHO designation led President Joe Biden to order additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe, which take effect on Nov. 29.

On Friday, the World Health Organization declared the omicron strain of the coronavirus a variant of concern. The strain was first identified in South Africa.

The variant has not yet been identified in California, according to a statement released Sunday by Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the director of the California Department of Public Health.

“California is closely monitoring the new Omicron variant, which has not yet arrived in California or the U.S.,” he said. “Vaccines continue to be our best way through the pandemic by safely protecting us against severe illness from COVID-19 and its variants.”

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The L.A. County Department of Public Health issued a statement as well, noting that “the Delta variant remains the dominate [sic] variant detected among LA County residents and continues to account for 100% of cases sequenced.”

The department went on to note that it’s still unclear how well vaccines will work against Omicron, however since they are effective against the Delta variant and other strains of the virus, officials “remain hopeful that the approved vaccines will also provide some protection against Omicron.”

Officials went on to emphasize the importance of adhering to the county’s masking requirements, and to get vaccinated if eligible.

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