INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Health on Sunday announced that it has detected the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in a specimen collected from an unvaccinated Indiana resident.
The variant was detected through the IDOH Laboratories’ variant surveillance program. The specimen was collected Dec. 9, and the patient was notified of the positive test. The sequencing to detect a variant was then conducted, and the Omicron variant was detected this weekend.
Indiana was one of just seven states in which Omicron had not yet been detected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Omicron variant 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.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said the latest mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus underscores the importance of getting vaccinated and taking other steps to prevent the spread of illness, especially as Hoosiers move indoors during the colder winter months and gather for the holidays.
“COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Indiana, and we do not want this variant to increase the burden on our already stressed healthcare system,” Box said. “While we are still learning about Omicron, we already have the tools and knowledge we need to protect ourselves and the people we love from COVID-19. I urge eligible Hoosiers to use those tools as soon as possible to limit the further spread of disease.”
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.