x
Breaking News
More () »

Georgia monitoring new COVID variant, urges you to get vaccinated

A few dozen COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Health said it's closely monitoring the emergence of a new COVID variant first detected in South Africa.

"The variant has not been detected in Georgia at this time," the DPH wrote in a statement released Friday evening. 

The new variant, named omicron by the World Health Organization, has a large number of mutations. Currently, a few dozen COVID cases caused by the omicron variant have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

Scientists are studying the variant to determine how quickly it spreads, whether it causes a more severe COVID illness, and how well the current vaccines are holding up against it.

RELATED: WHO names new variant omicron | What we do and don't know

"What is known is that COVID vaccination helps stop transmission of infection which prevents new variants from emerging," Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey said. "Vaccination is more important than ever with the emergence of this new variant and the holidays just around the corner."

Currently, all Georgians five years old and over are eligible for the COVID vaccine. Booster doses of the vaccine are also recommended for adults 18 and older who have finished their first series of the vaccine. 

The DPH said those who are experiencing COVID symptoms or who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should go get tested. The DPH added that PCR testing can detect the presence of the omicron variant.

The DPH said it will continue to monitor the new variant and continue to provide more information as it becomes available.

Click here for more information about COVID vaccination and testing sites in Georgia.