EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The city of El Paso’s Public Health Department confirmed the first 12 cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant on Monday night.

The specimens were collected and shipped for testing on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, 2021. It is the first time the variant has been identified in the community.

The patients are between their 20s to 70s in age. They include six males and six females. Three reported having traveled outside of El Paso.

Seven were fully vaccinated and none required hospitalization. Three individuals are still active cases; seven have recovered; and two were nonresponsive to outreach by the City’s contact tracers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the variant is more transmissible than the original form of the virus and is likely to be spread from breakthrough infections to others.

Vaccines are expected to protect individuals from severe illness caused by infections and lessen the chance of hospitalization or death. But breakthrough infections are also likely to happen.

A statement provided by the health department urges El Pasoans to get vaccinated or receive booster shots against COVID-19. Also, residents are advised to wear masks indoors and at large outdoor events, and get tested when feeling sick.

“Many symptoms of COVID-19 resemble those of a cold, flu and allergies. Anyone experiencing congestion or a runny nose, the sniffles, sore throat, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea should be tested for COVID-19,” the statement reads. “Free testing is available at City-run sites; people also may contact their healthcare provider or area pharmacies to receive a test.”

To schedule a vaccine visit EPCovidVaccine.com.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 may be eligible to receive the COVID-19 Infusion Therapy at the Regional Infusion Center at 9341 Alameda.

Patients can call the Texas Infusion Hotline for General Information and Assistance at 1-800-742-5990 to ensure they meet the criteria and schedule their appointment.

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