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First Omicron variant case confirmed in Wisconsin Saturday

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Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 7:21 PM CST
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Wis. (WBAY) - The first case of Omicron, Covid-19′s newest variant, has been found in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services made the announcement on Saturday, saying the Omicron variant, which has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the CDC, suggests it may be “more contagious, causing more severe illness, or resistance to diagnostics, treatments, or vaccines.”

Heath officials said Omicron has been found in a specimen from a Wisconsin resident who recently traveled to South Africa. The adult male resides in Milwaukee County and was fully vaccinated, including a booster dose. DHS said the man did not require hospitalization but did report mild symptoms.

“We’ve been prepared for this news and will continue trusting the science to help keep Wisconsinites and our communities healthy and safe,” said Governor Tony Evers. “Now is the time to double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant. I urge all eligible Wisconsinites to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose as soon as possible and to follow the latest public health guidance.”

“With the detection of Omicron in Wisconsin, Wisconsinites should stay vigilant in their efforts to stay healthy and to help prevent further strain on our heavily burdened hospital system,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “As we learn more about this variant and how easily it spreads, it’s crucial that all Wisconsinites continue to practice good public health safety measures like getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, staying home if you’re sick, and getting tested.”

DHS is urging all Wisconsinites to follow these practices to protect themselves from all variants of Covid-19:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Get your booster if you’re eligible.
  • Wear your mask in public indoor settings.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • If you’re experiencing symptoms or have been identified as close contact, get tested for COVID-19.

While it will take several weeks to learn more about the Omicron variant, officials say it is a concern based on the number of mutations found on the spike protein. DHS says “Certain mutations on the spike protein were already recognized on other variants and have been associated with increased transmissibility and antibody resistance. It will take several weeks to determine Omicron’s transmissibility, impact on disease severity, and the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against it.”

Officials do not believe this case is related ‘to the COVID-19 outbreak that DHS and the City of Milwaukee Health Department are investigating’ in relation to a wedding that led to 5 people testing positive for the Omicron variant in California.

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