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The first cases of the omicron variant have possibly been detected in Austin, according to Austin Public Health and the University of Texas.

UT Austin's Health Services announced Monday that it has found three preliminary cases of the omicron variant over the weekend. The lab results are still to be confirmed by genetic sequencing, which could take several days.

The first lab-confirmed omicron Texas case was discovered in the Houston area last week, although the highly-transmissible variant is expected to have been spreading locally. The three cases found were in individuals who had not traveled internationally and. were not linked to each other.

Omicron quickly spread in South Africa last month. It is the latest "variant of concern" to hit the community after a summer surge seen from the delta variant. Symptoms of the variant include cough, congestion, runny nose and fatigue, and are the same as other COVID-19 variants. The severity of the disease is still being researched, although one South African doctor said omicron patients experienced mild symptoms.

APH is asking the community to take COVID precautions such as getting a vaccine or booster shot, wearing a mask and staying home when sick.

“Our community learned first-hand the dangers new variants can pose. The delta variant arrived in the summer and is still in our community. Now we have the omicron variant,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority. “Our mission and our approach remain the same. Get vaccinated, get boosters, stay home if you are sick, wear your masks to protect yourself, your loved ones, and our hospital systems from this virus.”


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