Coronavirus: 5 cases of omicron variant confirmed in New York

NEW YORK — Five cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in New York state, marking the fourth known instance of the newly identified viral variant nationwide.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed the cases in a joint news conference with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, WABC reported. Four of the cases were detected inside the city limits of New York City, while one was confirmed on eastern Long Island.

The announcement came hours after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said a case was discovered in an Arapahoe County resident who had recently visited southern Africa for tourism. Another case was also confirmed in Minnesota on Thursday, health officials said.

The news in New York came hours after officials confirmed a man who attended a convention in Manhattan in late November tested positive for the variant.

“This is not cause for alarm,” Hochul said. “We knew this variant was coming and we have the tools to stop the spread.”

One of the cases was detected in a 67-year-old woman in Suffolk County, WPIX reported. The woman had recently traveled to South Africa and tested negative for COVID-19 when she returned on Nov. 25, the television station reported. However, she tested positive when she was tested Tuesday, according to WPIX.

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Two of the cases were detected in Queens and one was found in Brooklyn, Hochul said. Another case was in an unidentified borough of New York City.

The genders and ages of those four cases have not been revealed, WABC reported.

“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,” de Blasio said at Thursday’s news conference. “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.

“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.”

Omicron was first identified in Botswana on Nov. 11 and has since spread to several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, confirmed that the first case of the omicron variant had been confirmed in California.

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