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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The new omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Minnesota.

A news release issued this morning by the Minnesota Department of Health says the infected individual is a state resident who recently returned from a trip to New York City. The man, who is from Hennepin County, had been vaccinated. The health department says he developed mild symptoms last Wednesday and went in for testing on Friday. He is currently symptom-free.

The news release indicates the man told investigators he was in New York for the Anime NYC 2021 Convention a the Javits Center. Reports indicate the three-day event attracted more than 50,000 people from around the world.

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State officials credit Minnesota's robust variant surveillance program for quickly detecting the presence of the new variant in the state just days after its existence was first confirmed in South Africa.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Minnesota’s nation-leading genome sequencing infrastructure and strong testing network have allowed the state to quickly track the COVID-19 virus and better understand its spread. Today, those tools detected a case of the Omicron variant in Minnesota,” said Governor Tim Walz. “This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise. We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now — get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep Minnesotans safe.”

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, while acknowledging key questions about the impact of the new variant have yet to be answered, says the finding "underscores the importance of continued efforts by all Minnesotans to limit the spread of COVID-19 in any form. She stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and recommends wearing well-fitting maks in indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings.

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