Multiple cases of omicron virus variant detected in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) - Several cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been discovered in New York, health officials said Thursday, including a man who attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November and positive for the variant on his return to Minnesota has been tested.
In addition to the congress attendee, health officials said tests showed five other people recently infected with COVID-19 had the variant. These included a person in the Long Island suburbs who had recently traveled to South Africa, residents of Brooklyn and Queens, and another case who may have been linked to travel.
“No need to worry. We just want to make sure the public gets information when we get it, ”said Governor Kathy Hochul.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the geographic distribution of the positive tests suggests that the variant is subject to "community diffusion" in the city and is not related to a single event.
The news came a day after the US announced that its first case of the variant was discovered in California in a person who had recently traveled to South Africa.
Officials on Thursday reported another case of a Colorado woman who had recently traveled to southern Africa.
The November 19-21 Anime NYC 2021 Convention drew around 50,000 people, according to organizers, and attendees were required to wear masks and provide evidence that they had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Officials in New York said they were working to track down those attending the convention held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center as New York City prepared to host the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and await the return of tourist crowds Open to US prepared for vaccinated international travelers.
Officials in the city of 8.8 million said they expected it was only a matter of time before the new variant was reported in the city. City health commissioner Dave Chokshi urged attendees to get tested.
"We should assume that the variant is common in our city in the community," said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.
The Minnesota man started experiencing mild symptoms on November 22nd. He had been vaccinated and had a booster vaccination in early November, according to health officials in his home state. He was looking for a COVID-19 test on Nov. 24 and his symptoms have subsided, officials said.
Minnesota health commissioner Jan Malcolm said the man has not recently traveled outside of the United States.
"Given the timing ... it seems entirely possible, perhaps the most likely, that this broadcast took place at the New York City Arena convention, but that's not final," Malcolm said.
November 22nd was the same day that the person infected in the California case returned to the United States from South Africa. The vaccinated California traveler developed mild symptoms and tested positive on Monday.
Much is still unclear about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more ill and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
Omicron is classified as a "questionable variant" by the World Health Organization as scientists are working to find out how it compares to the prevailing delta variant in terms of portability and severity. Scientists are also investigating the extent to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicrons.
The story goes on

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