(Dec. 8, 2021) — The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is reporting 3 additional probable cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Louisiana.
One of the cases involves an individual in Region 4 (Acadiana area) who traveled internationally. This individual did not require hospitalization.
The other 2 cases involve individuals in Region 1 (Greater New Orleans area). We do not have additional information on these two cases at this time.
This brings the total number of Omicron cases in our state to 4 – 3 probable and one confirmed. The first Omicron case in Louisiana was identified on Dec. 3.
“These new cases of Omicron should serve as a reminder of the ongoing threat of COVID especially as we get ready to gather for the holidays,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is get vaccinated and get the booster.”
The CDC and LDH recommend everyone 5 years of age and older get vaccinated and that everyone 18 years of age and older get a booster if eligible. The CDC also recommends wearing a mask in certain settings.
On Nov. 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and has named it Omicron. This new variant was first reported to the WHO by government officials in South Africa. Since that time, it has been detected in 50 countries and more than 19 states.
Information is still emerging, but Omicron includes multiple mutations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome. There is concern this new variant may be more transmissible than previous strains and that Omicron may carry an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants of concern. We expect to learn more about Omicron in the coming days.
LDH has established a network of laboratories to conduct genomic sequencing on positive SARS-CoV-2 specimens in order to track circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages, including newly emerging variants such as Omicron. Epidemiologists, laboratorians and researchers will continue to closely monitor these data in order to continue to identify Omicron cases in Louisiana.