I-Team: Omicron COVID variant found in Las Vegas area wastewater last week


UNLV team sequences variants

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Researchers have detected the omicron variant of coronavirus in wastewater in southern Nevada, but initial reports appear it is not widespread.

The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) reported the first case of the variant was found in a patient on Tuesday.

The patient, a fully vaccinated woman in her mid-20sm had not received a booster.

Scientists at UNLV first found the variant in samples of wastewater last week, Dr. Edwin Oh, an associate professor at the school’s Neurogenetics and Precision Medicine Lab, told the I-Team.

Southern Nevada Water Authority scientists take samples from wastewater to see how much coronavirus is in our sewer system. Oh and other researchers analyze the samples, which help public health leaders find spikes and clusters before they can be identified through traditional testing methods.

Coronavirus primarily affects our lungs, but the virus also causes secondary infections of the gastrointestinal tract. As the virus duplicates and is shed out of our bodies, some identifiable factors show up in our waste.

Most coronavirus cases in Nevada and the United States are from the delta variant. Initial reports indicate the Omicron variant may cause mild symptoms.

Most of Nevada remains under a mask mandate. Starting Dec. 15, California will require indoor masking, again.

Clark County’s COVID-19 test positivity rate keeps going up, now at 7.7% even as Nevada’s rate overall dropped to 7.5% in data released Tuesday.

The climb continues a trend since the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when the rate was at 6.7%.

Daily case counts showed 677 statewide and 489 for Clark County as of Tuesday. An additional 26 deaths were reported in Nevada, with 15 in Clark County.

Hospitalizations jumped back up to levels before the weekend, with 691 patients statewide and 576 in Clark County.

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