Ns News Online Desk: No cases of the new COVID–19 Omicron variant have been confirmed in the US to date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday. The announcement came after the newly identified strain was classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Friday.
“No cases of this variant have been identified in the US to date,” the CDC said in a statement.
“CDC is continuously monitoring variants and the US variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country. We expect Omicron to be identified quickly if it emerges in the US.”
First detected in South Africa on Tuesday, the variant has quickly caused concern across the globe.
Health authorities are now rushing to determine if Omicron is more transmissible or infectious than other variants — and if the vaccines are effective against it.The White House on Friday said it would restrict travel from South Africa and seven other nearby countries beginning on Monday.
The eight countries covered by Biden’s travel ban are Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The UK, EU, Canada and several other countries started announcing travel bans on southern Africa late Thursday — roughly 48 hours after Omicron, named by WHO after a letter in the Greek alphabet, was first identified.Meanwhile, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a “disaster emergency,” signing an executive order to postpone elective hospital surgeries amid an anticipated “spike” in new cases and the emergence of the new variant.
The CDC said it would continue working with its partners in monitoring the new strain, which has so far been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Belgium and Israel.
“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 about this variant with the US Department of Health and Human Services and CDC,” the federal health agency said. “We are working with other US and global public health and industry partners to learn more about the variant, as we continue to monitor its path.”