As North Texas health officials continue to work to combat COVID-19, they are bracing for the possible impact of yet another variant. On Friday, November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the new Omicron variant, deeming it “highly transmissible.”

Health officials held a virtual meeting to educate the public about the virus and what could be done.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, and some of these mutations have worrying characteristics,” Maria Van Kerkhove from WHO said on Friday.

The variant was first seen in regions in South Africa. According to WFAA, these places are starting to see spikes in Omicron cases.

The European Union and the United States will also begin restricting visitors from these regions, and seven other countries, on November 29.

Dr. Tulio de Oliveira, a South African scientist, said, “This variant did surprise us. It has a big jump on evolution.”

According to Fox 4 News, the announcement comes when North Texas hospitalizations are the lowest they have been since July. Fox spoke to shoppers during Black Friday events in North Texas, and some said they felt the vaccine would protect them.

One shopper, Chimere Douglas, said, “Everyone is out shopping, everyone is getting back to doing what they normally do during this season. I think it’s a good thing.”

According to another shopper, Angelica Kaiser, the low number of cases was one reason people felt safe shopping this year. She added that vaccines were another reason.

“That did give me comfort because all of my family members are vaccinated. Some of us are on our third dose, but everyone has had the second,” Kaiser told Fox.

According to Fox, it is unknown how fast the Omicron variant will spread, and it has not yet been reported in the United States.

According to a media release from Botswana, “The priminary report revealed that all four [individuals who had the new variant] had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.”


Dr. Mark Casanova from the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force told WFAA that the medical news was disappointing.

“It was a really disappointing day, not gonna lie. Hearing this news took the wind out of a lot of our sails,” Casanova said.

According to Casanova, there is still little known about this variant.

He said, “We know that this variant appears to be more highly transmissible but what we don’t know as of yet: Is it more infectious? Does it cause more harm in the individual who is infected? You’re right, ‘here we go again’ because we haven’t been able to get ahead of this thing, and we need to get about five steps ahead of it.”

Doctors are still urging people to follow mitigation guidelines, like hand washing and social distancing, WFAA reported.