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First death of Omicron COVID-19 reported in US

Tuesday, December 21st 2021 - 20:55 UTC
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It was an unvaccinated man in his 50s with underlying medical conditions It was an unvaccinated man in his 50s with underlying medical conditions

The first death in the United States from the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been reported Tuesday in Harris County, in the state of Texas.

“Sadly, we report the first local death attributed to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. This is a man in his 50s, resident in eastern Harris County, who was not vaccinated,” county judge Lina Hidalgo posted on social media. She also said the man ad underlying medical conditions.

Up until last week (Dec. 18), the Omicron variant accounted for 73.2% of the new COVID-19 cases recorded nationwide, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

City Council authorities in the Texan city of Houston had confirmed the local spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, after detecting its presence in wastewaters. According to local media, this new strain had been detected in eight of the city's 39 wastewater treatment plants.

A woman in her 40s, with a full vaccination schedule, no recent travel, and a native of Harris County, which covers much of Houston, was then identified Monday as the first case in Texas of the Omicron variant.

Omicron has been labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), starting from its first registration in South Africa on November 24.

Tuesday's death was officially declared as the first Omicron fatality by County Judge Hidalgo during a news conference. “My phone was ringing, I'm sure you guys noticed, and it was our public health director telling me we just had our first Omicron-related death,” she said.

“Please, get vaccinated and boosted,” Hidalgo went on. Tuesday's fatality comes weeks after the UK reported the first publicly confirmed death globally from Omicron earlier this month.

The World Health Organization [WHO] had issued a statement warning it expected a steep surge in the number of hospitalizations and deaths linked to the highly mutated and complex B.1.1.529 Omicron variant of concern.

In Texas, 82% of its new cases are Omicron after just three weeks of testing. Local media have reported Omicron cases were doubling and tripling in a matter of just one week.

Tags: COVID-19, Omicron.

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