Local leaders monitoring omicron variant, what it means for CT

Coronavirus

Conn. (WTNH) — The emergence of a new COVID-19 variant has sent shockwaves around the world as scientists and public health officials work to learn more. While the omicron variant hasn’t been detected in the United States or Connecticut, local leaders are on high alert.

“We don’t have the answers right now to the questions we all have about vaccines, therapeutics, whether it’s more infectious,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). “So, what I would tell people in Connecticut is to just hold tight. Don’t panic. Don’t get scared beyond measure at this point because we just don’t know at this point.”

Dr. Juthani expects we’ll know more about this variant in the weeks to come.

Right now, we do know it was first detected in southern Africa and cases have been confirmed in several other countries, including our neighbor to the north, Canada.

Dr. Juthani said testing is going on at six labs in the state to identify variants and to see what’s circulating here. “We, at this point, can now be looking out for it in the testing we do here in Connecticut, and we will get more information from our national partners about what it means,” explained Dr. Juthani.

She added now is the time to double down on the efforts to protect yourself against the virus, which includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, getting vaccinated, and getting boosted. 

“Even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, it will have some effect no matter what the variant,” said Dr. Juthani. “That’s why, above and beyond everything, getting vaccinated – and now getting boosted – is important more than ever as other variants develop throughout the world and potentially come to our shores.”

RELATED: ‘We still must be vigilant’: Lamont addresses emergence of new COVID variant

News 8 asked Governor Ned Lamont Monday if he anticipates stricter measures and mandates will be put in place on a statewide level.

“Every town, every region has very different vaccinations rate, very different metrics, so I think it’s safer to do it on a local basis for now,” said Governor Lamont.

He said he doesn’t foresee any restrictions being necessary, but said it’s something they’ll be watching closely.

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