By CBSLA Staff

MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA) – Yet another case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been found in the southland, this time in Long Beach, fueling fears among some that another surge could take hold during the winter months.

“It’s that perfect storm for almost a triple-whammy to the hospitals and the health system,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, an Orange County Deputy Health Officer.

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Southland doctors are bracing for a surge during the holidays as the flu season takes hold and more people are exposed to the Omicron and Delta variants of COVID-19.

“I’m not as young anymore. I’m 77 and my husband is older, and it worries me a lot,” said Laguna Woods resident Ruth Carter.

Locally, the latest Omicron case has been found in a Long Beach resident.

Health officials have limited data about the new strain, but so far it appears that those infected have mild cases, though Omicron is very contagious.

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“What we’re hearing from South Africa is that Omicron is 2-3 times more contagious. That means if you’re walking around, and we know from COVID in general the virus stays in the respiratory droplets that can stay in the air for hours,” Dr. Chinsio-Kwong said.

Beginning Wednesday, free COVID test kits will be available to all passengers coming into Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. Lab results will be shared with local health officials, including where the person traveled from.

Lake Forest resident Joanna Kipper was on the fence about getting a COVID booster, but she went ahead and did it.

“We also have a lot of vacations planned. So, we’re going on airplanes, going to Italy, going to Hawaii. So, it’s like why not, extra layer of protection,” she said.

Doctor Jim Keany is on the front lines in the emergency department at Providence Mission Hospital. He’s hoping that by people getting vaccinated, wearing masks and staying home when sick will help doctors and nurses get through the next wave.

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“Last January pretty much almost killed us all who worked in the hospitals. It was about the worst I’ve ever seen it in my career in the last 25 years. So, hopefully we will not get that scenario. We’re all hoping and praying for that,” he said.