Omicron variant detected in Tulare County


The South African doctor who alerted officials of the possibility of a new variant, later named omicron, said the “unusual but mild” symptoms were what caught her attention. (Photo: Getty Images)

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — In a news release from the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, it was announced Friday that the first potential cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in samples tested from Tulare County residents.

“Considering the national trend, we’ve been aware of the variants being present in our state, as well as surrounding counties,” Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught said.

The discovery comes nearly a week after reports from South Africa, where the variant was first discovered, indicated that the omicron variant appeared to cause less severe disease than previous versions of the coronavirus.

There are also indicators that vaccines may be less effective against the milder variant. Analysis from Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurer, and the South African Medical Research Council shows that a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination appeared to provide just 33% protection against infection during South Africa’s omicron wave, but 70% protection against hospitalization.

Tulare County health officials recommend that those who travel for the holidays should get tested for COVID-19, and are required to quarantine if they have a positive test result.

“Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status or exposure, should also get tested for COVID-19,” said the news release from the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency.

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