New York: Health officials have confirmed at least five cases of the omicron coronavirus variant in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday evening.
A 67-year-old woman from Suffolk County, two Queens residents, a Brooklyn resident, and a fifth person believed to be a visitor to the state tested positive. Their vaccination statuses weren’t immediately clear, but the woman from Suffolk County had received at least one dose, Hochul said.
The cases come after a Minnesota resident tested positive for the variant following attendance at an anime convention in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the geographic spread of the positive tests suggested the variant was undergoing “community spread” in the city and wasn’t linked to any one event. ___ Denver: Colorado became the third U.S. state to detect a case of the omicron variant in a woman who had recently traveled to Africa, state health officials announced Thursday.
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The Colorado case comes after two other confirmed omicron variant cases were found in California and Minnesota. Officials in Colorado detected the new case in a woman who is a resident of Arapahoe County, an area just east of Denver. She recently traveled to Africa as a tourist, the state health department said in a statement. The woman is fully vaccinated, but had not received her booster shot yet, they said. She is experiencing mild symptoms, health officials said. The woman’s close contacts in Colorado have tested negative, they said.
Toronto: Those who are 50 years of age or older will be eligible for a booster COVID-19 shot as of Monday in Canada’s largest province of Ontario.
Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore says thus far five Omicron variant cases have been identified in Ontario and additional cases are expected soon.
Moore says over 20% of those over 70 have received a booster shot. He says if the capacity is not being used they will open up eligibility sooner to other age groups. He says they have enough supply but don’t want to overwhelm the system.
Ontario is offering a booster shot six months after the second shot.
Rio De Janeiro: Brazil’s Ministry of Health on Thursday confirmed two more cases of the new variant of the coronavirus omicron in the country.
They are two people who boarded in South Africa, passed through Ethiopia, landed in Guarulhos, and finally arrived in Brasilia. One of them has mild symptoms of the disease and the other is asymptomatic.
With the three cases confirmed Wednesday in Sao Paulo, the number of confirmed cases of the omicron in Brazil rises to five. There are still eight investigations in progress.
Harare: Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the health minister, says the southern African country has recorded the omicron variant, making it the fifth African country to report its presence after Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria. “We are doing the genomic sequencing, we have already now identified that we have it in this country and therefore we must remain vigilant,” Chiwenga said according to Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster on Thursday. Chiwenga was speaking to a meeting for farmers. He didn’t provide details on the number of cases of omicron or the origin of the cases.
Geneva: Swiss health authorities have ordered the entire student body and staff of a branch of a renowned international school – some 2,000 people — to go into quarantine for 10 days after two confirmed cases of the omicron variant turned up on campus.
The Ecole Internationale campus known as La Chataigneraie, in suburban Geneva, was ordered shut by regional health authorities in the Vaud region starting Thursday evening, according to a notice sent to parents obtained by The Associated Press.
The quarantine order applies to all people, including those who have been vaccinated, and all students and staff are to take a PCR test in about five to seven days, according to the notice. It says family members will be required to take a PCR test.
Madrid: Spanish health authorities have confirmed the first case of the omicron coronavirus strain without any established link to southern Africa.
Secretary of State for Health Silvia Calzón said that of the five confirmed cases of the omicron variant in Spain there was one case identified on Thursday in a person who had not traveled to South Africa nor had any links to people who had made such a trip.
Spain’s ban on flights connecting air routes from South Africa and six neighboring countries started on Thursday for fears of the new strain identified by South African authorities.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, though the World Health Organization warned that the global risk from the variant is “very high” and early evidence suggests it could be more contagious.
Buenos Aires: Argentina said Thursday that a quarantine imposed on a cruise ship coming from Africa had been lifted after a crewmember tested negative for the virus that causes COVID-19.
The crewmember on the Hamburg cruise vessel tested negative in a PCR test, indicating that a previous positive result from an antigen test was false, Argentina’s Ministry of Health said. There were no other suspected virus cases among the crew and passengers, it said.
The Argentine government on Tuesday had ordered the quarantine of the vessel off the country’s coastline due to “the risk generated by the new omicron variant and as a precautionary measure.” The Hamburg was carrying 300 passengers and more than 150 crewmembers and was coming from Cape Verde. It had planned to dock in Buenos Aires. It is currently off Samborombón Bay, south of the capital.
Harare: The World Health Organisation’s Africa director says quick detection and reporting of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus by Botswana and South Africa have “bought the world time” as nations scramble to stop it spreading.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said Thursday that “we have a window of opportunity but must act quickly and ramp up detection and prevention measures.” Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill and whether it can thwart vaccines.
Moeti says countries “must adjust their COVID-19 response and stop a surge in cases from sweeping across Africa and possibly overwhelming already-stretched health facilities.” Africa Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention Director John Nkengasong told reporters at a separate briefing that the continent recorded 52,300 new COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week – a 105% increase.
He says about 31, 000 of the cases were reported in South Africa while the southern Africa region as a whole recorded a 153% increase in November.
The WHO says South Africa has confirmed 172 cases of omicron and Botswana 19. Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa are the other African countries that have recorded cases of the new variant.
Nkengasong says that while authorities are “deeply concerned” by the rising numbers “we are not worried that the situation cannot be managed.” He says vaccines are beginning to flow into the continent “in a very predictable and steady manner” although there is concern that “countries are not picking up these vaccines.” He says that while little is yet known about how effective current vaccines are against omicron, “anything in your body is better than nothing. We don’t have a choice – we have to use vaccines.” ___ St. Paul (US): Minnesota state health officials say lab testing has confirmed a COVID-19 case involving the omicron variant there. The Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday the variant was found during its surveillance program in a specimen from a Minnesota resident who had recently traveled to New York City.
The department says the man, from Hennepin County, had been vaccinated. He developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and sought COVID-19 testing on Nov. 24. His symptoms have subsided.
The person attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21, the health department said.
Omicron is classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern” as scientists work to determine how it may compare with the predominant delta variant in terms of transmissibility and severity. Scientists also are studying the degree to which existing vaccines and therapies protect against omicron.
Kyiv (Ukraine): Ukraine has announced an entry ban for foreign nationals traveling from eight African countries to prevent the new coronavirus variant omicron from entering the country.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill and whether it can thwart vaccines.
Ukraine’s ban will take effect on Friday and affect foreigners traveling from countries where the spread of the new variant has been recorded, such as South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, and several others.
Ukrainians and foreign nationals with permanent residency in Ukraine arriving from those countries will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
The ex-Soviet nation of 44 million people has reported a total of over 3.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 87,057 deaths in the pandemic.