New Jersey health officials announced they have detected the state’s first case of the omicron coronavirus variant on Friday, revealing the adult patient had recently traveled to South Africa, which was among the first countries to detect the new strain.
In a statement, the New Jersey Health Department said the patient — a resident from Georgia who is fully vaccinated — tested positive on November 28th and has remained in isolation since then. Under the state's health code, she will need to remain in isolation for at least 10 days. She received care at a hospital in northern New Jersey, but the details of the care weren't released. The woman’s symptoms have been described by health officials as “moderate.”
“The omicron variant is among us and we need to take steps to stop its spread,” Murphy said in a statement, urging residents to continue getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and staying vigilant. So far, the state’s health department reports 70% of residents are fully vaccinated, with 31% having already received a booster.
New Jersey’s announcement of its first case of the variant, also known as B.1.1.529, came a day after New York officials were alerted that a Minnesota man tested positive for omicron after attending the Anime NYC 2021 convention in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. Officials said the traveler attended from November 19th through the 21st. On Friday, the Washington Post reported several of the man’s friends have also tested positive for omicron.
Late Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a joint news conference with Gov. Kathy Hochul, announcing that five more people were found infected with the omicron variant. They include a person from Brooklyn, two in Queens, another in Long Island and an unspecified patient within New York City. They urged New Yorkers to remain calm as the health community continued to learn more about the new strain first detected by Botswanan scientists in November. On Saturday, three more cases of omicron were detected in New York.
Researchers in South Africa alerted the World Health Organization of omicron last week. On November 26th, the WHO classified omicron as a ”variant of concern.” It is suspected that omicron variant could be twice as transmissible as the delta strain and pose a higher risk of reinfection to unvaccinated people.