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Omicron variant of COVID-19 present in a number of US states

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The omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected within the U.S. earlier than the center of this week, had been found in not less than 5 states by the tip of Thursday, exhibiting but once more how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with velocity and ease.

Only a day after the primary recognized U.S. case was found in California, checks confirmed the omicron variant had infected at least five people in the New York City metropolitan area, plus a man from Minnesota who had attended an anime conference in Manhattan in late November.


A Colorado lady who had lately traveled to southern Africa, a Hawaii resident with no latest journey historical past, and one other California resident who traveled to South Africa final month additionally had been contaminated by the variant, officials said.

A lot stays unknown about omicron, together with whether or not it’s extra contagious, as some well being authorities suspect, whether or not it could possibly thwart vaccines and whether or not it makes individuals as sick as the unique pressure.

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Well being officers in every state stated there was no trigger for undue alarm. However the unfold of the {cases}, some involving individuals who hadn’t been away from residence lately, meant the variant was doubtless already circulating domestically in some elements of the U.S.

“We gotta assume there’s much more behind that and that it has been right here for a significant period of time,” New York Metropolis Mayor Invoice de Blasio stated at a information convention with Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The contaminated New Yorkers included a 67-year-old lady on Lengthy Island who had lately traveled to South Africa, residents of Brooklyn and Queens and one other case probably linked to journey. At the very least one individual had obtained a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine however officers didn’t have particulars in regards to the vaccination standing of the 4 different {cases}.

A cell COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot web site operates out of a bus on 59th Road south of Central Park as sufferers wait on the sidewalk, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in New York.
(AP Photograph/John Minchillo)

In Minnesota, well being officers stated a person who had not traveled outdoors the U.S. started experiencing signs the day after attending the Anime NYC 2021 conference in New York Metropolis. Minnesota Well being Commissioner Jan Malcolm stated it’s doubtless the person contracted COVID-19 on the conference, however officers didn’t know for certain.

Officers in New York stated they had been working to hint attendees of the conference, which was held Nov. 19-21 and drew about 50,000 individuals, in response to occasion organizers. Attendees had been required to put on masks and present proof of getting obtained not less than one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

It was held on the Jacob Okay. Javits Conference Middle as New York Metropolis ready to host the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and braced for throngs of vacationers to return after the U.S. opened up to vaccinated international travelers.

Metropolis Well being Commissioner Dave Chokshi urged individuals who attended the occasion to get examined.


“This isn’t simply because of people who find themselves touring to southern Africa or to different elements of the world the place omicron has already been recognized,” Chokshi stated Thursday.

The Minnesota man started experiencing gentle signs Nov. 22. He had been vaccinated and obtained a booster shot in early November, in response to well being officers in his residence state. He sought COVID-19 testing Nov. 24, and his signs have subsided, officers stated.

Nov. 22 was the identical day the individual contaminated within the first California case returned to the U.S. from South Africa. The California traveler, who was vaccinated, developed gentle signs and examined Positive Monday. The second individual within the state didn’t want medical care and was additionally vaccinated.

The unvaccinated grownup contaminated with the variant in Hawaii had gotten COVID-19 a yr in the past. The individual isn’t presently hospitalized and had “mild-to-moderate” signs together with headache, physique aches and cough, Hawaii Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble stated.

She wouldn’t establish the affected person different to say the individual lives on the island of Oahu.

Omicron is classed by the World Well being Group as a “variant of concern” as scientists work to find out the way it might evaluate with the predominant delta variant by way of transmissibility and severity. Scientists are also finding out the diploma to which present vaccines and therapies shield towards omicron.

Scientists in South Africa first reported it, however the samples got here from a number of international locations in southern Africa. And well being officers within the Netherlands now say it was discovered there previous to the South Africa detection.

As consolation over air journey returns, it’s inevitable that new variants like omicron will unfold from nation to nation and state to state, stated professor Danielle Ompad, an epidemiologist at New York College’s Faculty of International Public Well being.


“We shouldn’t panic, however we must be involved,” she stated.

Hochul stated the case involving the Minnesota customer underlined the necessity for everybody who’s eligible to get vaccinated towards COVID-19 or obtain a booster shot in the event that they haven’t already.

“There’s one option to deal with this — New Yorkers, get vaccinated, get boosted, and prepare,” the Democrat stated.

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