The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Tuesday announced Illinois’ first known COVID-19 case caused by the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The first case was found in a Chicago resident and known contact of a confirmed Omicron case from another state who visited Chicago. The Chicago resident was fully vaccinated and had a booster. They haven’t needed hospitalization and has been self-isolating.
“Scientists need time to learn more about the Omicron COVID-19 variant, but in the meantime, we already know how to be vigilant,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. “So, get your vaccine, get your booster, wear your mask indoors, wash your hands, and get tested for COVID-19 if you feel sick or have been exposed to someone who tested positive.”
The IDPH said that South African authorities were the first to report the Omicron variant to the World Health Organization on Nov, 24, with retroactive testing confirming the variant to be present in Europe at least five days prior. The variant has been found in more than three dozen countries worldwide, contains a large number of mutations, and has been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The first case in the United States was reported on December 1, 2021, and both travel-associated and non-travel-associated cases have subsequently been reported from multiple U.S. states.
“Public health experts and scientists worldwide continue to study the newest variant, Omicron, to determine if it spreads more easily, causes more severe illness, and how effective the current vaccines are against it,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “While we don’t have all the answers right now, we know the general prevention strategies we’ve been recommending – vaccination, boosters, masking, testing, physical distancing – are our best protection against the virus and its variants. As long as the virus continues to circulate, it has the potential to mutate into new variants. Vaccination can help stop circulation, but we need more people to get vaccinated.”
The best protection against serious illness and hospitalization is to get vaccinated and boosted.