First American case of omicron variant discovered in California

(File / Getty)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A person in California became the first in the United States to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, a U.S. official told the Associated Press on Wednesday. It comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus.

The Biden administration moved at the end of last month to restrict travel from southern Africa, where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved to tighten U.S. test rules for travelers from abroad, including requiring a test for all travelers within one day of boarding a flight to the United States regardless of vaccination status. It also considered mandating post-arrival testing.

Officials said these measures would only “buy time” for the country to learn more about the new variant and take appropriate precautions, but that given its transferability, it was inevitable to come to the United States.

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