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No omicron variant cases detected in NYC yet, mayor says

There were no confirmed cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus detected in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a briefing on the pandemic Monday.

"There are no omicron cases in New York City at this moment. It is very likely there will be," added the mayor from City Hall.

On Friday, a World Health Organization panel named the latest variant "omicron" and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant delta variant, which is still a scourge driving higher cases of sickness and death in Europe and parts of the United States.

MASKS RECOMMENDED INDOORS IN NYC AGAIN

"We are going to double down on our vaccination efforts. We are going to keep climbing the ladder, as we have talked about before, a variety of efforts to get more and more folks vaccinated," said de Blasio.

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Is omicron in the US?

The variant was detected in approximately a dozen countries after first being detected in southern Africa.

"We are very, very carefully watching this situation," said de Blasio.

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The mayor added that he had spoken with NY Gov. Kathy Hochul in an effort to coordinate local and state response efforts.

On Friday, Hochul declared a state of emergency for New York, ahead of the inevitable arrival of the variant in the state.

Hochul's order will allow the state Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent scheduled hospital procedures if necessary to ensure capacity and protect access to critical care services.

"Everyone knows there is still a lot of information we need but we are going to be in a very vigilant state in the meantime," said de Blasio.

"Delta remains the dominant variant in New York City," said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

Further investigation into the new variant was underway. Current vaccines were likely to provide some level of protection against omicron.

The city's doctor recommended that all New Yorkers wear a mask when indoors and in a public setting. The guidance was in line with the recommendation issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas where the virus is surging.

With the Associated Press

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