NEW YORK (AP) – A man who attended an anime convention in New York in late November tested positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus when he returned home to Minnesota, the second case of the variant in the U.S. and by top officials on Thursday … urge thousands of congress participants to get tested.
The news comes a day after the US announced that the first case of the variant had been detected in California in a man who had recently traveled to South Africa.
New York Governor Katie Hochul said there are no confirmed cases of omicron among New Yorkers yet, but expected this to change, saying, “We expect more cases.”
According to event organizers, the November 19-21 anime convention drew about 50,000 people, and attendees were required to wear masks and show evidence that they had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Officials in New York said they are working to track attendees to Anime NYC 2021, which was held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
The convention, held just days before officials in South Africa announced the new version, was held as New York prepared for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and prepared for crowds of tourists to return after the US opened to vaccinated. international travelers.
Officials in the city of 8.8 million said they expect a new variant in the city to be only a matter of time.
“We have to assume that there is a proliferation of this option in our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
READ MORE: What we know what you can do to protect yourself from the omicron
On November 22, a Minnesota man developed mild symptoms. He was vaccinated and boosted in early November, according to health officials in his home state. He applied for COVID-19 testing on November 24, and his symptoms disappeared, officials said.
November 22 was the same day that a person infected in California returned to the United States from South Africa. A traveler from California who was vaccinated developed mild symptoms and tested positive on Monday.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious as suspected by some health authorities, whether it causes more serious illness in people, and whether it might interfere with the administration of the vaccine.
Omicron is classified as an “option of concern” by the World Health Organization as scientists are working to determine how it can compare to the predominant delta option in terms of transmissibility and severity. Scientists are also studying the extent to which existing vaccines and treatments protect against the omicron.
Scientists in South Africa reported this for the first time, but samples were obtained from several countries in southern Africa. And health officials in the Netherlands now say it was discovered there before being found in South Africa.
As the feeling of comfort around air travel returns, new options like the omicron will spread from country to country and from state to state, according to Professor Daniel Ompad, an epidemiologist at New York University’s School of Global Public Health.
“We shouldn’t panic, but we should be worried,” she said.
Hochul said the case involving a visitor from Minnesota highlighted the need for anyone eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine or get boosted if they haven’t already.
“There is one way to solve this problem – New Yorkers have to get vaccinated, get boosted vaccinations and get ready,” said the Democrat.
City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi urged everyone who attended the event to get tested.
“This is probably not an isolated incident, which means that the Omicron variant continues to spread to the public in New York,” Chokshi tweeted.
The convention website states that Anime NYC is the creation of Leftfield Media, an event management company based in Shelton, Connecticut. A company spokesman did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.
This report was contributed by Associated Press reporters Marina Villeneuve of Albany, NY, Bobby Kaina Calvan of New York, Doug Glass of Minneapolis, Dave Kolpak of Fargo, North Dakota, and Gretchen Elke of Milwaukee.