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(AP Illustration / Peter Hamlin)

The same way you guard against COVID-19 caused by any other variant: Get vaccinated if you haven’t yet, get a booster if you’re eligible and step up other precautions you may have relaxed, like wearing a mask and avoiding crowds.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo / Susan Walsh, File)

Reports from South Africa, where it emerged and is becoming the dominant strain, suggest that hospitalization rates have not increased alarmingly.

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This May 13, 2020, file photo taken with a fisheye lens shows a list of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Salt Lake County early in the coronavirus pandemic at the Salt Lake County Health Department, in Salt Lake City.  (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer, File)

In New York City, officials quickly reached out to a man who tested positive for the variant and had attended an anime conference at a Manhattan convention center last month along with more than 50,000 people. Five other attendees have also been infected with the coronavirus, though officials don’t yet know whether it was with the omicron variant.

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An Orange Farm, South Africa, resident receives her jab against COVID-19 Friday Dec. 3, 2021 at the Orange Farm multipurpose center. South Africa has accelerated its vaccination campaign a week after the discovery of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. (AP Photo / Jerome Delay)

New COVID-19 cases in South Africa have burgeoned from about 200 a day in mid-November to more than 16,000 on Friday.

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Located in the Edgewater community on Chicago’s northside, Andersonville has one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish heritage and is home to a large LGBTQ plus community. (WTTW News)

Located in the Edgewater community on Chicago’s North Side, Andersonville has one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish heritage and is home to a large LGBTQ community. Learn more about the history as well as what the area is doing to adopt eco-friendly initiatives.

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The Protecting Moms Who Served Act, introduced by Rep. Lauren Underwood and championed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to invest in quality maternal care for mothers across the country. (WTTW News)

The Protecting Moms Who Served Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood and championed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to invest in quality maternal care for mothers across the country.

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(WTTW News)

The number of new COVID-19 infections has been steadily increasing for weeks and on Thursday surpassed 11,000 for the first time in a 24-hour period since December 2020 – when vaccines weren’t available, according to state health officials.

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President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington. Biden is set to kick of more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots on Dec. 2, as he unveils his winter plans to combat the coronavirus. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

“Experts say the COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in the weeks ahead this winter, so we need to be ready,” President Biden said Thursday during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in suburban Maryland after a briefing with scientific advisers.

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(WTTW News)

“We’re coming together with one simple message: the time to get your shot is now,” said Dr. Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer of Cook County Health.

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Allen Siders, an anti-abortion activist, center, calls out to speakers at an abortion rights rally in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A small group of anti-abortion activists attempted to disrupt the gathering of participants from various abortion rights groups. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a Mississippi case that directly challenges the constitutional right to an abortion established nearly 50 years ago. (AP Photo / Rogelio V. Solis)

The Supreme Court has never allowed states to ban abortion before viability, the point at roughly 24 weeks when a fetus can survive outside the womb. But the court’s conservative majority may overturn a nationwide right to abortion that has existed for nearly 50 years under the court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

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The AIDS garden is set to open this spring along the lakeshore just south of Belmont Ave. (WTTW News)

It has been 40 years since the first cases of what’s now recognized as HIV/AIDS were reported. Today, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago estimates that 45,000 people are living in Illinois with HIV or AIDS, 28,000 of whom reside in Chicago.

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A couple stands outside the security control section inside a terminal of the Barcelona Airport, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo / Joan Mateu Parra)

The infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, developed mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 Monday.

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Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. said Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use. (Merck & Co. via AP)

The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-10 that the antiviral drug’s benefits outweigh its risks, including potential birth defects if used during pregnancy.

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People wear face mask to protect against the coronavirus at the public transport station Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. According to local authorities wearing face masks mandatory in public transport and passengers need to be vaccinated, recovered or tested negative of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Economic powerhouses Japan and France reported their first cases of the omicron variant Tuesday, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm.

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James Robson, a biomedical engineering graduate student, holds a swab and specimen vial in the new COVID-19, on-campus testing lab, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston. (AP Photo / Charles Krupa, File)

Viruses mutate constantly. To find and track new versions of the coronavirus, scientists analyze the genetic makeup of a portion of samples that test positive. It’s a global effort, but until recently the U.S. was contributing very little.

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(WTTW News)

Under the pilot, an unvaccinated student who is exposed to COVID-19 would be allowed to stay in school if they agree to testing on the first, third, fifth and seventh day after their exposure.