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First US case of Omicron Covid variant identified in California

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A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer vaccine at Rosemead in California.

The first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the United States has been identified in California.

The identification by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new variant of the virus.

The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from southern Africa, where the variant was first identified, and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations.

The CDC is moving to tighten US testing rules for travelers from overseas, including requiring a test for all travelers within a day of boarding a flight to the US regardless of vaccination status. It was also considering mandating post-arrival testing.

Officials said those measures would only “buy time” for the country to learn more about the new variant and to take appropriate precautions, but that given its transmissibility its arrival in the US was inevitable.

The dominant variant in the US is still the Delta strain, which emerged and spread across the country over summer.

More details soon …

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