Governor Ned Lamont has released a statement about the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron on Sunday, just days after the World Health Organization identified it as a variant of concern.
The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529, also known as the Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO by government officials in South Africa.
The World Health Organization last week classified omicron as a "variant of concern," meaning it is more contagious, more virulent or more skilled at evading public health measures, vaccines and therapeutics.
Lamont said the team at the Connecticut Department of Public Health is monitoring the developments closely.
"Earlier this year we set up a network of labs, coordinated by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, that are conducting genomic sequencing on positive test specimens to provide understanding of the variants circulating in Connecticut. Our advance planning in this area will help us track Omicron, in addition to other variants that could appear in the future," Lamont said in a statement.
At this time, there have been no cases of the Omicron variant reported in Connecticut or the United States. So far, the variant has been found in Canada, the U.K., Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Australia and Hong Kong.
Lamont is still reminding residents to get vaccinated and to get boosters as this variant spreads.
“This news of the Omicron variant reminds us about the importance of being vaccinated and getting a booster. We have now entered the winter holiday season and still need to mask while in indoor public places, practice proper hand hygiene, get tested, and stay home if you feel sick," Lamont said in part in a statement.
Starting tomorrow, the United States will restrict travel for non-U.S. citizens from South Africa and seven other countries, which is part of a global effort to stem the spread of the heavily mutated omicron variant of Covid-19, according to senior Biden administration officials. It's unclear how long the travel restrictions will last.
In addition to South Africa, other countries included in the new restrictions are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.