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Oklahoma health department monitoring emerging COVID-19 omicron variant

OSDH discovers 'African variant' in the sooner state
Posted at 1:06 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 14:06:15-05

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Monday they're monitoring the emergence of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

The latest "variant of concern" according to the World Health Organization hasn't yet had a reported case in Oklahoma.

State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone issued the following statement about the omicron variant on Monday:

“OSDH continuously monitors all COVID-19 variants, including the recently identified Omicron variant, to better assess the current and future state of the pandemic and its potential impact on Oklahomans. At this time, no cases of the Omicron variant have been reported in our state.

Based on what we currently know, the available COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the best tool in preventing cases of severe illness from the virus and emerging variants. We encourage all eligible Oklahomans to get vaccinated and consider getting a booster dose for additional protection.

We are more prepared than ever to respond to emerging variants with many tools and resources available to us, including early detection of COVID-19 variants through genomic sequencing. The OSDH Public Health Lab conducts sequencing as a surveillance tool for identifying variants within the state, and we are prepared to sequence for the Omicron variant. To aid in gauging the impact of COVID-19 in our community, as well as identifying new variants like Omicron early on, we encourage Oklahomans to get tested for COVID-19 if they are feeling sick.

Our team is in communication with national public health experts to stay informed on this new variant and its potential impact in the state. As more information becomes available to us, we will update Oklahomans.”

The statement followed President Joe Biden's Monday morning news conference addressing the new variant.

"First, this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said.

"Second, the best protection – I know you’re tired of hearing me say this – the best protection against this new variant or any of the variants out there, the ones we’ve been dealing with already, is getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot.”

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