Health officials say first omicron variant detected in Pitt County; three cases discovered now overall


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Health officials say an omicron variant case of COVID-19 has been detected in Pitt County.

Pitt County’s Health Director, Dr. John Silvernail announced on Thursday he was notified by Vidant Medical Center of Pitt County’s first omicron variant case of the COVID-19 virus. In a press release from Pitt County government, health officials said the variant was identified through the Vidant / Brody School of Medicine’s COVID-19 Sequencing Laboratory.

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This is reportedly the second detected case of omicron in North Carolina. There was an omicron case identified in Mecklenburg County, the first in the state, last week.

In a press conference held Thursday on Zoom, Silvernail said the county actually has three confirmed cases involving people who don’t currently know each other.

“We are considered to be in an area of high transmission,” Silvernail said. “Communicable diseases follow human activity, so when we gather, when we travel, when we meet family and friends, there’s an opportunity for viruses and other infections to be exchanged in those interactions.”

The person who was identified as having the first case is a 30-year-old who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in December. That person did not travel internationally, just through the state. They are currently isolated at home. Health officials said they experienced mild symptoms and have now recovered.

Individuals, who were exposed to this patient, were reached by contact tracers and have been given guidance to prevent further spread of the virus.

Officials said samples of the specimens collected from COVID-19 tests conducted in Pitt County are sent to the Vidant/Brody School of Medicine’s laboratory. The laboratory conducts a process called sequencing amongst these specimens, which determines the types of COVID-19 variants.

“I am not surprised that the Omicron variant has made its appearance in Pitt County,” Silvernail said. “The increase of travel and close gatherings due to the holiday season has made the transmission more likely. I anticipate that more cases will be identified over the next few days and weeks to come.”

County officials also said in the press release the health department has been made aware that two more omicron variant cases have been recently identified in Pitt County, but details are not available this time.

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