First case of Omicron variant in United States detected in California

Public health officials in California have confirmed the first known case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the US.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday the infected individual had recently returned from South Africa. The traveler was fully vaccinated, has displayed mild symptoms so far and is currently self-isolating, the CDC said.

The US plans to impose fresh travel restrictions over the new variant, including a ban on travel from eight African countries: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

International passengers are also expected to soon be required to provide a negative test result from within 24 hours of their departure, US media reports have said.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce the stricter testing requirement and possible additional measures on Thursday. On Monday, the president said he believes the new variant is “not a cause for panic”, adding that it was unlikely to result in domestic lockdowns.

Fauci said that the U.S. travel ban is a “temporary measure” to buy some time to try to get ahead of the new variant, which follows the Delta variant.

The World Health Organization recent designates Omicron a “variant of concern.” It was first identified by scientists in South Africa, and has since been detected in several countries.

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