On Nov. 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and has named it Omicron. No cases of this variant have been identified in the U.S. to date.
The CDC says it is following the details of this new variant, first reported to the WHO by South Africa. The agency says it is working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more about this variant, as it continues to monitor its path.
The CDC says it is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country. The agency says it expects Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.
According to the statement from the CDC, "We know what it takes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CDC recommends people follow prevention strategies such as wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, washing your hands frequently, and physically distancing from others. CDC also recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC encourages a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for those who are eligible. Travelers to the U.S. should continue to follow CDC recommendations for traveling. CDC will provide updates as more information becomes available."