TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The coronavirus has mutated and a new variant has been found.
The new strand is called omicron, and the World Health Organization first learned about its existence from South Africa, according to the CDC.
On Nov. 26, WHO said it is a “variant of concern.”
It is still unknown whether this new variant can spread among people more easily compared to other strands, added WHO. Scientists have not discovered yet whether omicron causes more severe cases of COVID-19.
In a Fox News report, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who told officials of a possible new variant, mentioned omicron causes “unusual but mild” symptoms.
Coetzee noticed the uncommon symptoms on Nov.18.
“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well,” Coetzee said. “So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough.”
More people are testing positive for COVID-19 in South Africa, but studies are still trying to determine if this is due to the new coronavirus variant or because of other reasons.
Preliminary evidence also shows there may be more risk of reinfection with this new strand. This means people who had COVID-19 may get reinfected with omicron more easily than other variants of the virus, said WHO.
Experts are still researching how omicron will impact COVID-19 vaccines, and they said the new variant can still be detected by PCR tests.
The omicron variant has been found in different countries. On Sunday, officials announced two cases were detected in Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s “Weekend TODAY,” the new strand could possibly be in the U.S.
“We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve been noted in Israel and Belgium and in other places — when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over,” he said.
On Monday, the U.S. began temporarily restricting travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi due to the omicron variant, according to CNBC.
The CDC mentioned people can continue to follow prevention strategies to protect themselves from COVID-19. These include: wearing a mask in public in areas where there is substantial or high community transmission, washing your hands and maintaining distance from others.
The CDC also recommends those that are 5 years or older get their COVID-19 vaccines, and people should get their booster dose if they qualify.