CRETE, Neb. (KCAU) — Six cases of the omicron variant have been detected in southeast Nebraska, says the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to a press release, it is believed that the first case was likely exposed during an international flight to Nigeria, with the patient returning on Nov. 23. The patient became symptomatic the next day. The patient self-identified their travel history, sought testing, and alerted the Nebraska Public Health Solutions District (PHS). PHS serves Fillmore, Gage, Jeferson, Saline, and Thayer Counties.

The five other cases were likely exposed from household contact with the patient. Only one of the six cases was in a vaccinated person. No one has required hospitalization.

A team from PHS then proceeded to envisage and coordinate testing for sequencing to identify a variant. The process was completed rapidly through Nebraska Public Health Laboratory. Dr. Peter Iwen and Dr. Baha Abdalhamid at NPHL identified the omicron variant.

“The identification of omicron reinforces the urgency for Nebraskans to get vaccinated. The more Nebraskans are vaccinated, the less opportunity new SARS-CoV-2 variants will have to take hold in the state.” DHHS Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Donahue said. “With delta, which is the current predominant variant, unvaccinated Nebraskans are filling hospitals at a rate 10 times higher than vaccinated Nebraskans. We are doing our part to find new variants when they emerge and arrive in the state, older Nebraskans have done their part in getting vaccinated at high rates; we need younger Nebraskans to keep stepping up to protect themselves and each other by choosing to get vaccinated.”

Case investigations and contact tracing are ongoing.

Public Health Solutions reminded the public that COVID-19 vaccination is widely available throughout the district.