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Health officials respond to omicron variant of COVID-19

It is not reported in the United States, but during a press conference on Monday, President Joe Biden and health officials warn it’s only a matter of time.
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Questions linger as the new COVID-19 variant appears to be spreading rapidly with many different mutations.

More than one dozen countries have confirmed omicron cases, including neighboring Canada.

It is not reported in the United States, but during a press conference on Monday, President Joe Biden and health officials warn it’s only a matter of time.

“It’s gonna move around the world. I think it’s almost inevitable or will be at some point that that strain here in the United States,” Biden said.

Omicron was detected in South Africa where travel restrictions are already in place.

“Most of the patients there are younger. Only about 25% of South Africa was vaccinated. So, some of that may be playing into it,” said Chris Ayers, a clinical pharmacist with Singing River Health System.

It’s the quickest to be labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, but scientists said they still need time to figure out just how concerning it really is.

“I just don’t want my family to catch it. Just stay safe, you know,” said Pascagoula resident Quentin Johnson. “I hope nobody catch it, to be honest. Like, that’s not something you want to have and be sick.”

Angie Sanders tells WLOX she is still feeling some effects from COVID-19 after recovering from the virus about three months ago.

“Not again,” she said. “COVID ain’t no joke. I keep a mask on my face everywhere I go. I have masks in my purse, car, face, everywhere.”

While it’s too early to tell how effective vaccines will be, health officials said it’s still your best line of defense against the virus.

“We do know there will be some level of efficacy of the vaccines against the variant,” Ayers said. “It’s important that we continue getting our booster shots, continue to get folks vaccinated and then take precautions, obviously.”

Ayers said vaccination rates in Southern Mississippi are the lowest out of the state and only about half of Mississippi is immunized.

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