TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Shawnee County Health Department was notified today of the first
confirmed case of the Omicron variant in a Shawnee County resident by the Kansas Department
of Health and Environment (KDHE).

“We have been expecting and preparing for this notification of Omicron in our community,” said
Dr. Erin Locke, Shawnee County Health Officer. “The Omicron variant is much more contagious
than previous variants, even Delta, and has the capacity to evade some of our hard-won
immunity. It will spread more easily in the home and at work, in schools, and at community
events. Fortunately, the familiar mitigation measures will work against this respiratory virus, but
we must be vigilant. It is extremely important to get vaccinated with a booster, wear a mask, get
tested, maintain physical distance and stay home when sick.”

The top five symptoms reported in December were:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (either mild or severe)
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

The cold-like symptoms reported three days after a positive test was not vastly different from those of the delta variant, researchers found. The early data suggests that omicron arrives with symptoms distinct from earlier variants, which caused more flu-like, initial symptoms.

Both the KDHE and the SCHD are urging Kansans to use the following tools to protect themselves
against COVID-19 and the omicron variant:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines remain the best tool to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. The three authorized COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. Scientists expect the vaccines to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and death in people infected with the Omicron variant. COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized for people ages 5 and over. The COVID-19 booster shots are authorized for all individuals ages 16 and over. To find a vaccine near you, visit www.vaccines.gov.
  • Wear a mask. Masks offer protection against all variants. It is recommended that people wear a well-fitting mask in public indoor settings in Kansas, where COVID-19 transmission remains high, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Get tested. If you are sick or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19. COVID-19 tests are available across Kansas. Go to www.KnowBeforeYouGoKS.com to find a free testing location near you. At-home tests are available for purchase at grocery stores and pharmacies. These can be used at home, work or anywhere and can provide rapid results. If a positive result is received through an at-home test, individuals should follow up with a health care provider about a confirmation test.
  • Social distance. When in public settings, stay at least 6 feet from other people, especially if you are at higher risk of getting sick.