CV. SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 (Omicron) Variant — United States, December 1–8, 2021

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A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), B.1.1.529 (Omicron) (1), was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by South Africa on November 24, 2021. Omicron has numerous mutations with potential to increase transmissibility, confer resistance to therapeutics, or partially escape infection- or vaccine-induced immunity (2). On November 26, WHO designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern (3), as did the U.S. SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG)* on November 30. On December 1, the first case of COVID-19 attributed to the Omicron variant was reported in the United States. As of December 8, a total of 22 states had identified at least one Omicron variant case, including some that indicate community transmission. Among 43 cases with initial follow-up, one hospitalization and no deaths were reported. Thisreport summarizes U.S. surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 variants, characteristics of the initial persons investigated with COVID-19 attributed to the Omicron variant and public health measures implemented to slow the spread of Omicron in the United States. Implementation of concurrent prevention strategies, including vaccination, masking, increasing ventilation, testing, quarantine, and isolation, are recommended to slow transmission of SARS-CoV-2, including variants such as Omicron, and to protect against severe illness and death from COVID-19.

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