The omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in Houston wastewater, the Houston Department of Health said Monday evening. “The detection is the first indication that the new variant is in Houston, although a case has not yet been confirmed in the city,” the department said.
Wastewater samples collected between November 29 and 30 showed omicron at eight of the city’s 39 wastewater treatment plants, and genomic sequencing results confirming the variant were received on Monday evening.
“The Houston Health Department and Houston Water continue to do an exceptional job of tracking the impact of the virus in our community. Although no specific case of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in an individual in the city of Houston, we should use this information as a reminder to get the full vaccine, including a booster, ”Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “Vaccines help protect us, our families, friends and colleagues in the work environment. As the holidays approach, I encourage everyone to stay vigilant about their health and safety.
The health department said it routinely tested the city’s wastewater for COVID-19, including variants, and had recently started testing samples for omicron because “people infected with COVID -19 excrete the virus in their stool “.
“The wastewater data is helping to identify emerging epidemics and hot spots more quickly requiring interventions to help stop the spread of the virus,” the health department added.