Maryland confirms 3 omicron coronavirus variant cases

December 3, 2021 GMT

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland health officials have confirmed the first three cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in residents of the state, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday.

All three cases are from the Baltimore metropolitan region, officials said. Two are from the same household, including a vaccinated person who recently traveled to South Africa and an unvaccinated person who was a close contact of that person. The third case, a vaccinated person with no known recent travel history, is unrelated to the other two. None of the three people are hospitalized.

Contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential close contacts are quickly identified, quarantined and tested, officials said.

The World Health Organization has classified omicron as a “variant of concern” and it has now been found in several states. Scientists are working to determine how it may compare with the predominant delta variant in terms of transmissibility and severity. Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.

Earlier this week, Maryland officials announced preparations for the variant, including further expanding variant surveillance and making free at-home rapid antigen tests available at the international terminal at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.