Omicron variant detected in Ada County

BOISE, Idaho – The omicron COVID-19 variant has been detected in Ada County, Central District Health said Friday.

The variant was confirmed in a clinical laboratory sample from an Ada County resident who recently reported out-of-state travel. The resident is over 50 years old and exhibited very mild symptoms, likely due to his full COVID-19 vaccination, according to the CDH.

“It is important for people to realize that this new, highly transmissible variant has now been detected in Idaho and in many parts of the United States. Many Idaho residents travel regularly at this time of year, and we must remember to continue to take precautions, including getting your vaccine or your vaccine booster if you haven’t already, ” said Lindsay Haskell, communicable disease control manager for CDH.

Idaho is investing in a way to test for COVID-19 in wastewater. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is using federal money to fund labs to analyze sewage samples across the state, which the city of Boise has been doing since the start of the pandemic .

Labs are able to track data over time to see peaks in COVID-19 rates. The city of Boise sends separate samples to the University of Missouri three times a week for variant testing.

In the future, wastewater testing could provide public health officials with important information about much more than COVID-19.

Omicron was first detected in South Africa on November 24 and has been identified as a “variant of concern” because of its ability to spread, according to the World Health Organization. The variant was first detected in the United States on December 1 in California in a person recently returned from a trip to South Africa.

The PCR tests the state is currently using can identify the omicron variant, according to senior Idaho health officials.

Related: Idaho Health Officials: Omicron In US Is Imminent, Residents Urged To Get Vaccinated

Authorities continue to urge Idaho residents to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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