A second confirmed case of COVID-19 involving the omicron variant has been confirmed and linked to Minnesota State University-Mankato.
The individual who tested positive is an adult who had recently traveled domestically. It is not clear if the adult is a student or a staff member at MSU-Mankato.
According to the state health department, the individual was vaccinated and developed mild symptoms on Nov. 30, with their symptoms since resolving. A case investigation is ongoing but the individual told health officials that they isolated from others.
"The individual is doing fine and is following appropriate isolation protocols," MSU Mankato President Edward Finch wrote in an email to staff and students, according to KEYC.
The first case in Minnesota involving the omicron variant was detected in a man from Hennepin County who had traveled to New York for an anime convention in November. That man was vaccinated and had received a booster dose of the vaccine just two weeks before developing symptoms, which were mild and have since resolved.
Epidemiologists are still working to find out everything possible about the omicron variant. Early signals indicate that omicron is extremely transmissible – more so than the delta variant, which currently dominates Minnesota and the U.S. – but perhaps not as severe as the delta variant.
NPR has an in-depth article about what is happening around the world with omicron. Here's a snippet:
"Early reports from health officials and doctors in South Africa suggest the omicron wave of infections — while breathtaking in its speed — isn't yet causing the same level of severe disease as delta did when it hit the country. For example, ICU admissions are much lower.
"But many experts caution it's far too early to draw any firm conclusions. South Africa has a relatively young population, and many people had already caught the virus prior to omicron's emergence."
The concern in Minnesota is that if omicron is able to escape natural and vaccine immunity, then the sheer number of people it could infect could ultimately put a greater strain on hospitals, which are already facing capacity issues.
Omicron was first discovered in South Africa and has since been confirmed in more than 60 countries, including the United Kingdom where cases have been rising rapidly and could account for more than half of all UK cases by the end of December, according to The Guardian.