KDHE Update on the Omicron Variant

 

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) continues to sequence positive COVID-19 samples and has not yet identified the Omicron variant in Kansas. While there is more to learn about Omicron, the same prevention methods used throughout the pandemic remain the best tools to help stop the spread of the virus and prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. The SARS-CoV-2 Variants tab on the COVID-19 Dashboard is updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday and includes the total count of Omicron cases in the state. When the first case of the Omicron variant is identified, KDHE will issue a statement—identifying information such as age, location and gender will not be released to protect the individual’s privacy.

What We Know about Omicron

  • Reports from South Africa suggest the Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Delta virus.
  • More data is needed to understand the severity of infections caused by the Omicron variant.
  • Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people are likely to occur. One early study showed that getting a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine may protect against infection with Omicron. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
  • Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work on the Omicron variant.

Tools to Protect Yourselves from COVID-19 and the Omicron variant

Get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines remain the best tool to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. The three authorized COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death and scientists expect they will also prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death in people infected with the Omicron variant. COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized for people aged 5 and over. The COVID-19 booster shots are authorized for all adults aged 18 and over.

Wear a mask. Masks offer protection against all variants. It is recommended that people wear a well-fitting mask in public indoor settings in Kansas where COVID-19 transmission remains high, regardless of vaccination status.

Get tested. If you are sick or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19. COVID-19 tests are available across Kansas. Go to KnowBeforeYouGoKS.com to find a free testing location near you.

Social distance. When in public settings, stay at least 6 feet from other people, especially if you are at higher risk of getting sick.

At home tests are available for purchase at grocery stores and pharmacies. These can be used at home, work or anywhere and can provide rapid results.

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