A second case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been detected in the U.S.
The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed the case on Thursday in a resident who had recently traveled to New York City.
It comes a day after health officials in San Francisco, California, confirmed the first U.S. Omicron case on Wednesday.
The variant was initially detected by South African officials last week, and experts are uncertain of its initial origins.
It is believed to be highly infectious and potentially vaccine evasive due to its many mutations.
The second U.S. case of the Omicron variant has been detected in Minnesota. The state health department reports that the infected person had recently traveled to New York City
‘Minnesota’s nation-leading genome sequencing infrastructure and strong testing network have allowed the state to quickly track the COVID-19 virus and better understand its spread. Today, those tools detected a case of the Omicron variant in Minnesota,’ said Governor Tim Walz in a statement.
‘This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise.
‘We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now — get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep Minnesotans safe.’
The person infected is an adult male from Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis.
He is fully vaccinated, and first began to experience symptoms of Covid on November 22, before the variant had even been identified yet.
The man tested positive for Covid on November 24.
Its reported that he had recently attended a New York City anime convention in Manhattan from November 19 to 21.
Not much is known about the variant just yet, but many health officials fear the worst.
The variant was first detected in South Africa last week, but is believed to have originated in either Botswana or in a European country.
It has 50 mutations, including 30 on the spike protein that the COVID-19 vaccines target to prevent infection.
Because of these many infections, vaccine experts fear the shots could be rendered ineffective against the new variant.
Cases have also begun to skyrocket in South Africa after the variant was first detected there, another worrying sign for health officials.
Nothing can be said for certain yet, though, and more information is expected to be gathered about the variant over the next few weeks.
‘We still have more to learn about Omicron, but the most important thing we can do right now is to use the tools we have available to make it as hard as possible for this virus to spread,’ Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
‘In addition to vaccination and boosters, we can slow the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the tried-and-true prevention methods of wearing masks, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.’
On Wednesday, the first case of Omicron in the U.S. was sequenced in San Francisco, California.
That person – whose gender was not revealed – had recently travelled from South Africa, according to local officials and was fully vaccinated.
‘The individual is self quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted and all close contacts thus far have tested negative,’ Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters during a briefing.
California Governor Gavin Newsome said that the person is between the ages of 18 to 49.
American officials are cautioning citizens, but warning them not to panic in the wake of a new threat, though.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated