5 cases of omicron COVID-19 variant detected in New York

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, December 3, 2021
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Josh Einiger has the latest on the 5 cases of the COVID Omicron variant detected in New York.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- At least five cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant were reported in New York on Thursday, just hours after the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced a case in a resident with a recent travel history to New York City.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the confirmed cases during a joint press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday evening.

All of the cases are said to be mild and everyone recovered at home.

"We just want to make sure that the public is aware of information when we receive it," Hochul said.

The five confirmed cases in the state of New York include:

-67-year-old woman in Suffolk County who had been in South Africa - at least partially vaccinated

-Queens based case - unknown gender - unknown if vaccinated

-Queens based case - unknown gender - unknown if vaccinated

-Brooklyn based case - unknown gender - unknown if vaccinated

-One case in an unidentified borough - no further info

"This is not a time to panic, this is a time to get vaccinated, get boosted, and get tested," de Blasio said.

Meanwhile, officials in Minnesota had only identified the patient with the omicron variant as a vaccinated adult male who lives in Hennepin County.

They said he developed mild symptoms on November 22 and sought COVID-19 testing on November 24.

The person spoke with MDH case investigators and reported traveling to New York City and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 18-20.

RELATED | 6 NYC-area hospitals could face capacity restrictions amid threat of omicron

Event organizers estimated 53,000 people attended the convention.

"All visitors at the Javits Center are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks while indoors, and we are working closely with our government and industry partners to learn more about this individual case," a Javits Center spokesperson said.

The patient was advised to isolate from others, and his symptoms have since resolved.

Hochul said the state is in touch with health officials in Minnesota, and she encouraged everyone who attended the convention to get tested.

"We knew it would come to New York state at some point," Hochul said. "We're ready for it. This is not surprising."

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the assumption is that there has been community spread.

"We are aware of a case of the Omicron variant identified in Minnesota that is associated with travel to a conference in New York City, and we should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city," he said. "We are working closely with the state and the CDC, as well as the Javits Center's event organizers, and our Test and Trace Corps will be contacting conference attendees. This conference required masks and complied with our Key2NYC requirement to mandate vaccination. Anyone who attended the AnimeNYC conference, especially anyone experiencing symptoms, should get tested immediately and take additional precautions, including social distancing. I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated, wear a face mask while indoors and in public, and help our city beat this virus once and for all."

A spokesperson for Anime NYC said they have not yet heard of any additional positive cases.

Minnesota epidemiologists are also investigating in collaboration with New York City and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The variant was found through the MDH variant surveillance program, which experts consider one of strongest surveillance programs in the nation.

Officials cited their robust virus surveillance system for allowing them to quickly identify omicron once it entered the state and made it more likely that Minnesota would be among the first states to find the variant.

"Since the beginning of this pandemic, Minnesota's nation-leading genome sequencing infrastructure and strong testing network have allowed the state to quickly track the COVID-19 virus and better understand its spread," Governor Tim Walz said. "Today, those tools detected a case of the omicron variant in Minnesota. This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise. We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world."

While omicron is classified by the World Health Organization as a "Variant of Concern," scientists are still working to determine how it may compare with the predominant delta variant in terms of transmissibility and disease severity.

Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.

RELATED | 1st case of omicron COVID-19 variant identified in US, Dr. Fauci says

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