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3 more probable omicron cases reported in Louisiana, officials say

Phoebe Jones
A vaccinator draws a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Three more probable COVID-19 cases of the omicron variant have been identified in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) said in a press release Wednesday.

One probable case is from a person in Region 4, which includes Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermillion parishes. The person traveled internationally and has not been hospitalized, LDH said.

The other two cases involve individuals from Region 1, which includes Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. There is no additional information concerning these cases at this time.

In total, state health officials have identified one confirmed omicron case and 3 probable cases. Louisiana identified its first omicron case earlier this month.

The omicron variant has multiple mutations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome that could make it more transmissible and carry greater risk of reinfection compared to previous strains, LDH said, though information is still emerging and officials expect to learn more in the coming days.

LDH has established a network of laboratories to conduct genomic sequencing to identify variants including omicron, according to the press release.

“Epidemiologists, laboratorians and researchers will continue to closely monitor these data in order to continue to identify omicron cases in Louisiana,” LDH said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people 5 years and older get vaccinated and that eligible individuals receive a booster vaccination.

“These new cases of omicron should serve as a reminder of the ongoing threat of COVID, especially as we get ready to gather for the holidays,” state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said in a statement. “The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated and get the booster.”

More than 560 COVID cases and eight deaths were reported to the state Tuesday. There were 215 people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, 83% of whom are not fully vaccinated.

Eighteen percent of Tuesday's cases were among children under the age of 18, according to LDH. Of the nearly 2.3 million Louisianans who are fully vaccinated, 5.5% of them are ages 5 to 17.

Aubri Juhasz is the education reporter for New Orleans Public Radio. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She helped lead the show's technology and book coverage and reported her own feature stories, including the surge in cycling deaths in New York City and the decision by some states to offer competitive video gaming to high school students as an extracurricular activity.

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