HOUSTON – A northwest Houston woman with no recent travel history tested positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19 on Monday, according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
“It’s normal for viruses to mutate, and given how quickly Omicron spread in southern Africa, we’re not surprised that it showed up here,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “Getting vaccinated and continuing to use prevention strategies, including wearing a mask when you are around people you don’t live with, social distancing, handwashing and getting tested when you have symptoms, will help slow the spread of the virus and help end the pandemic.”
According to the Texas Department of State and Health Services, the woman, who is in her 40s, was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this week and later genetic sequencing results showed the infection was caused by the omicron variant strain.
Rafael Lemaitre, communications director and senior advisor to Hidalgo, said the woman is likely the first person in Texas to test positive for the new variant.
According to an official in the Harris County Judge’s office, the woman is fully vaccinated and has not required hospitalization.
“I would expect in the next several days to weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if we identify several more cases here in the area,” Dr. Prathit Kulkarni, assistant professor of medicine - infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, said.
The B.1.1.529 variant was identified in South Africa last month and appears to spread more easily from person to person than most strains of the coronavirus. Currently, it is unclear if the Omicron variant is associated with a more severe disease. The department of health services said studies have commenced to determine how effective vaccines are expected to be against infection. However, vaccination is expected to continue to offer protection against hospitalization and death.
The case is now being investigated by Harris County Public Health and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
NEW: A woman in her 40s from NW Harris County with no recent travel history has tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The best way to protect ourselves and our community from this virus is to get vaccinated & boosted. Get your shot ➡️ https://t.co/qS98pi06fL— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) December 7, 2021