USC student identified as second L.A. County case of Omicron variant

Omicron
FILE PHOTO. Photo credit Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (KNX) — A second case of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has been confirmed in Los Angeles County, according to the Department of Public Health. The person is a USC student who returned to the County after holiday travel on the East Coast, health officials said, adding that they are fully vaccinated and experiencing only mild symptoms while self-isolating.

"This was actually detected in someone who was participating in routine surveillance —which in my mind is really the power of that routine surveillance program," said Dr. Sarah Van Orman, USC's chief student health officer.

The Department of Public Health said all people identified as close contacts of the student in L.A. are now quarantined and being tested. The department is also working with the university that the student attends to determine if there are any additional close contacts.

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Based on travel history, health officials said it is likely that the student got the virus outside of L.A. County.

“While we are still determining the transmissibility and the severity of Omicron, I encourage residents and travelers to take additional steps to protect yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated or boosters, tested if you feel sick or are a close contact, and wearing your mask,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of Public Health.

“Layering on as many protections as possible will give us a better opportunity to slow the spread of this potentially dangerous variant as we prepare for holiday gatherings and a potential winter surge.”

The health department is urging all L.A. County residents to get vaccinated or boosted — as it remains the only way to prevent a deadly infection.

Residents can walk into any vaccination site or make an appointment at the hundreds of additional sites across the county. For more information, visit VaccinateLACounty.com.

"Residents who have traveled for the holidays should get tested if they traveled internationally or to locations in this country with high transmission rates." the department said in a statement emailed to KNX.

To see a list of free testing sites throughout the County, click here.

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