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Fauci says Omicron variant is probably already here, NY declares state of emergency

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Parts of the United States have launched a general assault on the new, highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 as Dr Anthony Fauci warned the variant is likely already circulating in the country.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency on Friday, limiting the hospital’s capacity to emergency needs as of December 3 and arranging the purchase of medical supplies. The state of emergency, which temporarily prohibits elective surgeries, will remain in effect until at least January 15.

“We continue to see warning signs of spikes this coming winter, and although the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York state, it is coming,” Hochul said.

The Omicron variant, officially known as B.1.1.529, has been classified as a “variant of concern” and received its Greek name by the World Health Organization on Friday. The designation, prompted by a cluster of cases from southern Africa, led the United States to impose travel restrictions on South Africa and seven other African countries.

Dozens of people in flight from South Africa infected with COVID

The CDC said Friday night it had not detected any cases of it so far, although Fauci told Weekend TODAY it wouldn’t surprise him if the variant was already there.

“We haven’t detected it yet,” he said, “but when you have a virus that shows that level of transmissibility and you already have cases related to the trips they noted to Israel and Belgium and other places, when you have a virus like this, it will almost invariably end up disappearing almost everywhere. “

The CDC said in its statement that it would be able to quickly detect the variant once it appears. The agency also thanked the South African government for promptly reporting the new highly transmissible variant.

“We are grateful to the South African government and its scientists who have openly communicated with the global scientific community and continue to share information on this variant with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC,” he said. -he declares.

The Omicron variant is of particular concern because it has more than 30 spike protein mutations that allow the virus to bind to human cells.

“That’s an insane amount of change,” wrote epidemiologist Katelyn Jeteline in an explainer on Omicron. “For comparison, Delta had 9 changes on the spike protein.” The tip is “the key to our cells.” If the virus changes to become a smarter key, we need to know that, ”she added.

The variant quickly spread from African nations to Europe. Dutch authorities revealed on Saturday that 61 people arriving on two KLM flights from South Africa have tested positive but it is not known whether they have been infected with Omicron.

The UK said on Saturday that two Omicron cases had been detected in the country, both linked and with a connection to travel to southern Africa.

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