Omicron Covid variant expected to hit New York in ‘coming days,’ NY health commissioner says

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  • The state health commissioner said the new, highly mutated Omicron COVID-19 variant is expected to arrive in New York state in the “coming days”.
  • The announcement comes hours after a second US case of the variant was confirmed in a Minnesota resident who had recently returned from New York City.
  • The New York state health commissioner said the Wadsworth Center, the state’s health department’s biodefense lab, is continuing to perform genomic sequencing to identify the Omicron variant.

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The state health commissioner said Thursday that the new, highly mutated Omicron Covid-19 variant is expected to hit New York state in the coming days.

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“We now have an exposure. We fully expect that to be explored in the coming days.” Dr. Mary Bassett, who On Wednesday, he stepped down as the health commissioner of the state. Bassett was speaking at a news conference with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, when Minnesota officials confirmed a second American Omicron case in a local man who had just returned from a conference in New York City.

“There is no doubt that it will be detected in New York State and New York City, but it has not been detected yet,” Bassett said.

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The Minnesota man, who was fully vaccinated and has since recovered, developed symptoms and was out of town to attend the Anime NYC 2021 conference at the Javits Center from November 19 to 21, the department said Thursday. The test was done soon after returning.

Anime NYC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Bassett noted that the state’s health department’s biodefense lab, the Wadsworth Center, is continuing to perform genomic sequencing to identify the omicron variant.

“It’s not a problem that Wadsworth isn’t doing his job. It’s just that [the variant] Haven’t found out yet,” Bassett said.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first US case of the Wednesday variant in Northern California. White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters on Wednesday that the person, who was fully vaccinated, would be in South Africa on November 22. had returned from the San Francisco area and was found positive on November 29.

The US has joined at least 23 countries worldwide that have confirmed cases of Omicron. The variant was first identified in Botswana last month and was reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa about a week ago.

Omicron contains more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone, which is the mechanism used by viruses to enter the body. According to the WHO, some mutations are associated with higher transmission and decreased antibody protection.

Some health officials in the US and around the world fear the variant profiling could reduce the effectiveness of existing vaccines. However, Fauci told reporters on Wednesday that more data is still needed.

“The molecular profile of the type of mutation you see [in omicron] This would suggest that it may be more permeable and that it may take away some of the protection of vaccines,” Fauci said. “But we just don’t know that.”

On Thursday, Biden announced travel restrictions to and within the US as part of a broader plan to stem the spread of the new version.

The administration needs to extend the requirement of masks for all international passengers to be tested for COVID within 24 hours of departure and on all domestic flights and public transport till March 18.

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