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Wednesday, December 07 2022
North America

Omicron detected in California wastewater before WHO declaration: Report

Alert over heavily mutated Omicron Covid variant
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San Francisco: The test result of a wastewater sample from California showed that the Omicron Covid-19 strain was present in the US state even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it the newest ‘Variant of Concern’, a media report said citing official sources.

The Omicron variant was detected in a sample of wastewater collected in Merced County on Thursday November 25, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times.

That’s one day after South Africa reported the variant to the WHO, and a day before the agency labelled Omicron a “Variant of Concern”, Xinhua news agency quoted The Los Angeles Times as saying

The finding reinforces observations scientists have made in recent weeks that Omicron was rapidly spreading across the world even before global health officials were aware it existed, The Los Angeles Times said, adding that the variant was also detected in wastewater samples collected in Sacramento County.

Sampling wastewater for coronavirus-related particles is being used to track pandemic trends.

Groups of scientists in the state are monitoring wastewater for Covid samples, including experts affiliated with Stanford University, the University of California (UC) Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced, UC San Diego and the state Department of Public Health, according to the newspaper.

Last week, health authorities announced that the first US case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was detected in San Francisco.

The individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Monday November 22.

The California Department of Public Health said that 13 confirmed cases associated with the Omicron variant have been reported to the state so far.

Till date, a total of 22 US states have identified cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, including some that indicate community transmission, according to the latest update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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