INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Health announced Sunday that it has detected the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in a specimen collected from an unvaccinated Indiana resident.
The variant was verified through the ISDH Laboratories’ variant surveillance program, according to a news release. The sample was collected Dec. 9, and omicron was detected in the sample this weekend after sequencing was conducted.
The patient has been notified of the positive test. No additional details about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.
Indiana was one of just seven states in which omicron had not yet been detected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Omicron is the latest mutation of the virus that causes COVID-19. The World Health Organization labeled it a "variant of concern" on Nov. 26. Studies have shown that the variant spreads more easily and faster than the delta variant.
The CDC says COVID-19 vaccines are expected to continue to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from the omicron variant. Evidence shows that individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster dose are best protected against this variant.
“COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Indiana," said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, "and we do not want this variant to increase the burden on our already stressed healthcare system.”
Box urged Hoosiers to continue to get vaccinated, wear masks while indoors and limit contact if showing symptoms of the virus.
The following steps can help protect Hoosiers from COVID-19, including the omicron variant:
- Get fully vaccinated if eligible, and get a booster if you are age 16 or older
- Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings
- Get tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
- Stay home if you are sick
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid crowds
Individuals aged 5 and older are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To find a vaccination site, visit www.ourshot.in.gov. Pediatric sites are marked with a red pin on the map. For testing information, visiting www.coronavirus.in.gov.
Information about the omicron variant will be added to the COVID-19 dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov this week.