Multiple cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in New York, Gesondheidsbeamptes het Donderdag gesê, including a man who attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November and tested positive for the variant when he returned home to Minnesota.
In addition to the conventioneer, health officials said tests showed five other people recently infected with Covid-19 had the variant. They included a person in the city’s Long Island suburbs who had recently traveled to South Africa, residents of Brooklyn and Queens and another case possibly linked to travel.
“No cause for alarm. We just want to make sure that the public is aware of information when we receive it,” said the state’s governor Kathy Hochul.
New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, said the geographic spread of the positive tests suggested the variant was undergoing “community spread” in the city, and wasn’t linked to any one event.
The news came a day after the US announced its first case of the variant had been detected in California, in a person who had recently traveled to South Africa. Officials reported another case Thursday in a Colorado woman who had recently traveled to southern Africa.
Omicron is classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization but much still remains unknown, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
Officials in the city of 8.8 million said they expected it would be only a matter of time before the new variant was reported in the city.
“We should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The newly reported cases came as Joe Biden unveiled new efforts to combat Covid in the US, including a nationwide campaign encouraging vaccine boosters, an expansion of at-home tests and tighter restrictions on international travel. His announcement Thursday amounted to a winter battle plan as the Omicron variant adds urgency to make booster shots available to as many Americans as possible.
Scientists in South Africa first reported Omicron, but the samples came from several countries in southern Africa. And health officials in the Netherlands now say it was found there prior to the South Africa detection.
As comfort over air travel returns, it’s inevitable that new variants like Omicron will spread from country to country and state to state, said professor Danielle Ompad, an epidemiologist at New York University’s School of Global Public Health.
“We shouldn’t panic, but we should be concerned," sy het gese.
Hochul said the case involving the Minnesota visitor underlined the need for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot if they have not already.
“There is one way to address this: New Yorkers, get vaccinated, get boosted, and get ready,” the Democrat said.