WASHINGTON (AP/WJW) — A fully vaccinated person in California has become the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to the CDC.
According to a statement from the CDC, the person was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22. The person has mild symptoms that are improving and is self-quarantining. Those they’ve come into contact with have tested negative.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters the person had not received a booster shot.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” Fauci said.
The announcement comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus.
The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was moving to tighten U.S. testing rules for travelers from overseas, including requiring a test for all travelers within a day of boarding a flight to the U.S. regardless of vaccination status. It was also considering mandating post-arrival testing.
Officials said those measures would only “buy time” for the country to learn more about the new variant and to take appropriate precautions, but that given its transmissibility its arrival in the U.S. was inevitable.