‘Community spread is occurring’: More COVID-19 cases linked to omicron variant likely in other parts of Houston, doctor says

The variant was also detected in Houston's wastewater

HOUSTON – On Monday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo confirmed that the first case of the omicron variant in the Houston area had been detected in Harris County. According to Hidalgo, the patient is a woman in her 40′s from northwest Harris County with no recent travel history.

Dr. Wesley Long, Medical Director of Microbiology at Houston Methodist, said that the announcement should not come as a surprise.

“I think most of us in medicine knew that we would see the omicron variant here in Houston sometime this week or next week just based on the spread we were seeing globally,” said Dr. Long.

Meanwhile, the Houston Health Department announced that wastewater samples collected on Nov. 29 and 30 indicated that the new variant was detected at eight of the city’s 39 wastewater treatment facilities.

The detection is the first indication the new variant is in Houston, although a case has not yet been confirmed in the city. Dr. Long said that the findings are something to pay attention to, but not be alarmed by.

“That tells us that there are likely omicron cases out there in different areas across the city. I think it is safe to assume that community spread is occurring and that over the next few weeks, we will see an increase in omicron cases,” said Dr. Long. “I don’t think people should be alarmed by that.”

Dr. Long added that people should continue to take inventory of their personal protective measures.

“The best defense is still the vaccine for COVID-19 and if people are eligible for the third shot or booster, they should definitely go ahead and get that,” Dr. Long said.

Health professionals continue to reiterate the importance of getting a flu vaccination this season as well.

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