The United States' first confirmed case of the omicron coronavirus variant has been identified in California, according to a source familiar.
The World Health Organization designates omicron a "variant of concern." In a technical brief released this week, WHO noted that the variant poses a "very high" global risk. The variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa, and has since been detected in several countries.
Scientists are working to determine how transmissible the variant is, how sick it makes people and how well current vaccines work against it. Until more information is learned about the variant, the United States restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries.
On Monday, President Joe Biden called the variant "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic," saying "we'll have to face this new threat just as we face those who have come before it."
Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, or get a booster if they're eligible. Other measures such as masks, handwashing, physical distancing and ventilation will still work against the omicron variant.
The delta variant of the coronavirus remains the dominant variant globally and in the United States.