CDC warns of alarming surge in Covid Omicron sub-variant in New York City as mandates lifted

Omicron BA.2 variant appears to be more transmissible than original BA.1 sub-variant, WHO says

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The Omicron sub-variant BA.2 makes up for 11.6 per cent of Covid-19 variants in the United States as of 5 March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

The cases of BA.2 variant have been doubling each week, CDC data from last week initially showed. However, the numbers were revised to a slightly lower degree on Tuesday.

Revised estimates from the CDC showed that the “stealth” Omicron sub-variant accounted for more than 6 per cent of the cases in the US in the week that ended on 26 February, and nearly four per cent in the week before that.

In New York, which is among the major regions where Covid mandates are being lifted, the cases of BA.2 variant have soared about four times in the past month.

Data showed that the sub-variant accounted for 3.3 per cent of the total cases in New York for the week ending 12 February. But this was as high as 12.4 per cent for the week ending 26 February, signalling a steady increase in the cases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said last month than the BA.2 variant appears to be more transmissible than the original BA.1 sub-variant.

“At a global level, BA.1 has been the predominant Omicron lineage, however, the proportion of reported sequences designated as BA.2 has been increasing relative to BA.1 in recent weeks, and is the predominant Omicron lineage in several countries,” the WHO said in a statement on Tuesday.

Besides New York, other big cities like Los Angeles are also lifting some of the strictest Covid measures after the last surge of Omicron cases.

Starting this week, New Yorkers will not be required to wear masks in public schools and the mandate of requiring vaccination at restaurants, entertainment and cultural venues will no longer be applicable.

It was time to “celebrate” as the New York City mayor Eric Adams announced removal of mandates and strict Covid protocols. The city needed to recover and “we are not going to allow Covid to define us”, the mayor announced at the Times Square on Friday.

He added: “We’re far from out of the woods. Covid is still here. But we are beating it back.”

In Los Angeles, people were no longer asked to wear masks at restaurants, bars, gyms, shops and other business spots. However, many indoor business establishments still require their patrons to be fully vaccinated.

Officials around the US eased mandates on Covid safety protocol this month, indicating that the outbreak and virus spread is under control — even if only briefly.

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