The first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Texas has been identified in the Houston area – Houston Public Media – Community News

The first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Texas has been identified in the Houston area – Houston Public Media

James Robson, a biomedical engineering graduate student, holds a swab and sample vial in the on-campus COVID-19 testing lab, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston.

A Harris County woman has tested positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Monday.

It is the first case of the rapidly spreading strain of the virus identified in Texas.

An unidentified woman in northwest Harris County in her 40s with no recent travel history recently tested positive for the variant, Hidalgo said on Twitter. The woman was fully vaccinated and did not require hospitalization.

It was not immediately clear when the woman tested positive, or when the results became available.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed the announcement in a statement Monday night. DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt said omicron’s appearance in Texas was not surprising given its rapid spread across southern Africa.

The strain was identified by South African doctors last month but has since surfaced in other countries. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 17 other states in the US have so far detected cases of the latest coronavirus variant.

Omicron appears to be the most transmissible strain of the virus to date, although public health officials are optimistic based on the results in South Africa that it is less dangerous than the delta variant, which is still the predominant strain in the U.S.

In an interview before the virus was identified in Harris County, Houston Health Authority David Persse said the city’s health department was testing the city’s wastewater and working with the Houston Methodist sequencing lab to quickly identify the variant.

“The only thing the coronavirus, all variants, has taught us from the start is that it has pushed us behind the facts because so many people who are infected have minimal symptoms or no symptoms at all,” he said. “So I’m assuming it’s already here or it will be here very soon.”

Additional reporting by Lucio Vasquez.

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