New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday, 26 November, signed an executive order to declare a state of emergency due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the state and the threat of the omicron variant.
Taking to Twitter, Hochul said: "We continue to see warning signs of spikes in COVID this winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it's coming. Today I signed an Executive Order to help @HealthNYGov boost hospital capacity ahead of potential spikes."
"Through this action, we will also be able to acquire critical supplies more quickly to combat the pandemic," she added.
According to data, New York reported 6,295 positives cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 28 new deaths, but no cases of the new omicron variant have been reported so far.
"But we are on high alert. We will continue to actively monitor virus samples and will continue working with @CDCgov and @WHO to closely follow developments (sic)," she said in another tweet.
'Variant of Concern'
The World Health Organization on Friday, 26 November, named the recently detected B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19 'Omicron,' after it was first reported in South Africa on 24 November.
WHO declared it a "variant of concern" and warned that the variant has a large number of mutations. It also suggested that countries enhance their surveillance and sequencing efforts for the same.
"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa," the WHO said in a statement on Friday.