Total ten cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been found in the United States, including as many as five cases in New York. Other states include Minnesota, Colorado, California, and Hawaii.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced in a tweet that five cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in New York state. However, she pointed out that the cases were mild and that it wasn’t a cause for alarm.
Before the five cases were reported in New York, Colorado health officials had announced on Thursday, 2 December, the state's first case of the Omicron variant.
This came after two cases were confirmed in California and Minnesota.
Out of the five cases in New York, one includes a man who attended an anime convention in Manhattan at the end of November and tested positive once he returned to Minnesota, news agency AP reported.
About 50,000 people had gone to the Anime NYC 2021 convention from 19 to 21 November. Wearing a mask was mandatory, while attendees were also supposed to show proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The Minnesota man had not only been fully vaccinated but was also given a booster shot in early November, as per state health officials.
Stating that the man had not travelled outside the country, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, “Just given the timing…it seems quite possible, perhaps the most likely, that this transmission happened at the arena convention in New York City but that’s not definitive”, AP reported.
Meanwhile, Dr Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and former Baltimore health commissioner, said that it was only a matter of time before more Omicron cases are detected in the United States, Reuters reported.
'Omicron,' which has been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO), has raised alarm bells across the globe.
According to the WHO, it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible or severe compared to Delta.
Earlier, the WHO has said on 29 November, that the Omicron variant is likely to spread internationally, posing a "very high" global risk where COVID-19 surges could have "severe consequences".
The B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19, or Omicron, was first reported by South Africa on 24 November 2021. However, according to Netherlands, the variant reportedly emerged there a week prior to its detection in SA.
(With inputs from Reuters and AP.)