LDH: Additional 20 Omicron variant cases in Louisiana

Staff Report
Dr. Charles Chiu, director of the University of California, San Francisco's Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center. Chiu's lab identified the first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the United States on Dec. 1, 2021.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 20 additional cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in a news release Dec. 9.

This brings the total number of Omicron cases in the state to 37 - 34 probable and 3 confirmed. The first confirmed Omicron case in Louisiana was identified on Dec. 3.

The following is a total breakdown of cases by region:

  • Region 1 (greater New Orleans area): 30 - 28 probable; two confirmed
  • Region 2 (Baton Rouge area): three probable
  • Region 4 (Acadiana): one probable
  • Region 7 (Northwest): two probable
  • Region 9 (Northshore): one confirmed

On Nov. 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and has named it Omicron. This new variant was first reported to the WHO by government officials in South Africa. Since that time, it has been detected in 57 countries and more than 21 states.

Information is still emerging, but Omicron includes multiple mutations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome. There is concern that this new variant may be more transmissible than previous strains and that Omicron may carry an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants of concern. We expect to learn more about Omicron in the coming days.

LDH has established a network of laboratories to conduct genomic sequencing on positive SARS-CoV-2 specimens in order to track circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages, including newly emerging variants such as Omicron. Epidemiologists, laboratorians and researchers will continue to closely monitor these data in order to continue to identify Omicron cases in Louisiana.