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Alaska reports second case of COVID-19 omicron variant

December 23, 2021 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said Wednesday that a second case of the COVID-19 omicron variant has been detected in the state.

The agency said the individual is an Anchorage resident who traveled domestically out of state this month. The person was already isolating at home with mild illness when reached by a contact tracer. The person has contacted others that had been in close contact.

The case was identified through genomic sequencing performed by an out-of-state laboratory.

Much about the omicron mutation of the virus remains unknown.

Two new British studies provide some early hints that it may be milder than the delta version. But scientists say that even if the findings of these early studies hold up, any reductions in severity need to be weighed against the fact omicron spreads much faster than delta and is more able to evade vaccines. Sheer numbers of infections could still overwhelm hospitals.

The department said it expects to detect more omicron cases soon. It is already the dominant strain nationally.

It reported 235 new cases of COVID-19 overall.