CDC headquarters in Atlanta. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Hospitalizations in San Diego County from COVID-19 increased by 10 to 269 on Saturday as world health officials expressed concern about the new Omicron variant.

According to state data, the number of San Diego patients in intensive care also increased, by 2 to 82.

Statewide there are 3,374 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 of whom 884 are in intensive care. So far 73,365 Californians have died from the pandemic virus.

San Diego County is not reporting cases and deaths over the Thanksgiving holiday period but is expected to provide an update on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are monitoring the new strain of coronavirus that was first reported in South Africa, but no cases have been identified in the United States.

“CDC is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country,” the agency said in a statement. “We expect Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.”

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains. It is named for 15th letter in the Greek alphabet.

A top medical researcher in San Diego expressed confidence in the techniques developed so far in the fight against the virus, including simple precautions like masks, social distancing and ventilation.

“We have all those tools that will work against any variant,” said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.