CHARLOTTE — A student at UNC Charlotte is the first known confirmed case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the state of North Carolina, public health officials announced on Friday.
In a release, Mecklenburg County Public Health said it was aware of a positive test for the omicron variant in a student at UNC Charlotte. The case was identified through the university’s sequencing program.
An emergency alert has been sent to all students at the university to inform them that the omicron variant was present on campus.
The student was isolated and has recovered, according to health officials, and exposure was limited to only one known contact. No other positive cases have been identified.
According to the university, the student had traveled out of the state during Thanksgiving break. The student, who is fully vaccinated, only exhibited mild symptoms and did not need to be hospitalized.
While this is the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in North Carolina and Mecklenburg County, Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said she wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t already more cases in the state.
Harris offered a friendly reminder to residents ahead of the holidays to get vaccinated, as well as to receive their booster shots. She said it’s the best defense against the virus.
“It has decreased the number of people that we’re seeing, requiring hospitalization, serious illness and death. Things that we don’t want to see in our community,” Harris said.
“It’s pretty crazy but there’s nothing really I can do,” student Tanner Ferguson said. “We still have to take finals and exams and finish up school, and then go home and not bring it home to my family.”
Ferguson said he plans to get tested for COVID-19 before going home at the end of the semester.
“This is not optimal timing for another variant to be added to our communities,” Atrium Health Dr. Katie Passaretti said. “Everyone is about to get together for the holidays and travel, which allows for better spread.”
Omicron has been detected in several other states, and more cases are expected nationwide. UNC Charlotte said it will continue with its safety protocols into the spring semester.
Safety and Vaccination (from UNCC):
- Continue to follow safety and testing protocols: Students, faculty and staff must adhere to campus face-covering requirements, and, if unvaccinated, must continue to participate in the ongoing weekly mitigation testing.
- Vaccination: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from contracting the virus. More information is available on the Niner Nation Cares website.
- Vaccine Booster: If you are already vaccinated and eligible, get your booster now. The CDC has recently updated guidance and recommends everyone 16 years and older should get a booster shot.
- Exit Testing: The University is offering optional exit testing for students and employees who wish to be tested prior to traveling for the winter break. All students and employees, regardless of their vaccination status, are welcome to take part in this free exit testing through noon on Thursday, Dec. 16. Registration is available through the mitigation testing form.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this developing story.
(WATCH BELOW: FAQ: What to know about booster shots and the omicron variant for the holiday season)
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