No cases of COVID-19 omicron variant identified in US yet, CDC says after Fauci said ‘he would not be surprised’ if it was already here
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that no cases of the new omicron variant of COVID-19 have been identified in the country as of Friday night.
The agency said it was following details on the new variant, which was first reported in South Africa and is feared to be more infectious than previous variants. The CDC classified omicron as a ‘variant of concern.’
‘We are grateful to the South African government and its scientist who have openly communicated with the global scientific community and continue to share information about this variant with the US Department of Health and Human Services and CDC,’ the CDC said in a statement.
‘We are working with other US and global public health and industry partners to learn more about this variant, as we continue to monitor its path.’
The agency added that omicron would be ‘identified quickly’ if it appears in the US as the virus has popped up in several European countries, Israel, Hong Kong and Australia.
The CDC’s statement comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US top health expert, said he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if Omicron was already in the country following a flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, landing at Newark airport Saturday morning.
Cases of Omicron have already been picked up in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium. It is not yet known whether the variant arrived in the Netherlands yesterday but Dutch authorities are sequencing passengers’ tests. There are also suspected individual cases being sequenced in Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia