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Virginia labs watching for omicron variant


Virginia’s governor says he is not planning any addition restrictions due to the new COVID-19 variant. Ralph Northam told reporters Monday that Virginia labs are looking for the so-called omicron variant, but haven’t found any cases yet.

The director of the New River Health District says it’s likely just a matter of time before it shows up here, though. "We do suspect that it will continue to spread like delta," Dr. Noelle Bissell said on a weekly call with reporters. "We do suspect that those who will be most at risk are those who are unvaccinated and those who have other co-morbid conditions." Bissell said scientists are still trying to determine the severity of the illness caused by omicron.

Not every positive COVID-19 test is then put through genetic sequencing. It's that genetic sequencing that shows scientists what variant is involved. Bissell said 99% or more of the sequenced cases from the New River Health District are caused by the delta variant.

Meanwhile, Bissell said COVID-19 case numbers in the New River Valley and across Virginia seem to have plateaued for the last couple of weeks. Hospitalizations in the health district have remained relatively low compared to a few months ago.

Other seasonal illnesses, like flu, are picking up though. Bissell said the district has seen several hundred cases of flu-A. It's been especially prevalent in the university community.

David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.
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