(CNN) The United States’ first confirmed case of the Omicron coronavirus variant has been identified in California, according to a source familiar.
The World Health Organization designates Omicron a “variant of concern.” In a technical brief released this week, WHO noted that the variant poses a “very high” global risk. The variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa, and has since been detected in several countries.
Scientists are working to determine how transmissible the variant is, how sick it makes people and how well current vaccines work against it. Until more information is learned about the variant, the United States restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries.
Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter
On Monday, President Joe Biden called the variant “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” saying “we’ll have to face this new threat just as we face those who have come before it.”
Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, or get a booster if they’re eligible. Other measures such as masks, handwashing, physical distancing and ventilation will still work against the Omicron variant.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus remains the dominant variant globally and in the United States.
According to the Washington Post, Joe Biden says omicron variant concerning but not ‘cause for panic’; CDC urges all adults to get boosters:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention significantly expanded its recommendations for booster shots on Monday, saying that all adults 18 and older should get them, as President Biden called the omicron coronavirus variant a “cause for concern” but “not a cause for panic.”
All American adults became eligible for booster doses of coronavirus vaccines earlier this month, but the CDC previously focused on the most vulnerable age group — saying people over 50 should make sure to get boosted, while others had the option.
Scientists say the omicron variant’s high number of mutations could make it highly transmissible and better able to penetrate immune defenses, but much remains unknown. Experts predict vaccines will still provide at least some protection, and the president emphasized Monday from the White House that shots remain the best way to prepare.