Omicron Covid variant fear leads to state of emergency in New York as Biden bans travel from African countriesNovember 27, 2021
A STATE of emergency has been declared in New York amid increasing concerns regarding the Omicron Covid variant.
It comes as President Joe Biden banned travel from eight African countries in a bid to keep the super-strain out of the US.
Ahead of the chaotic Christmas period, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order on Friday that she hopes will ease pressure on health surgeries ahead of a potential spike in Covid cases.
It is feared infections will be spurred on by the Omicron variant – and despite there being no cases in the Big Apple yet, the world is on high alert.
The New York governor has pledged to postpone elective surgeries in a bid to increase hospital capacity and tackle staffing shortages in the city.
The executive order, which comes into effect on December 3, will also allow the state to acquire critical supplies to help fight Covid.
Hochul said it was the appropriate action to take after continuing to see "warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter."
And she warned residents: "While the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming."
The Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant, spreading rapidly across South Africa, has twice as many mutations as the delta strain and experts are suggesting that it could force countries back into lockdowns.
It is now known to be in five countries after Belgium detected its first case from an unvaccinated person returning from abroad.
Hochul continued: "The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you’re fully vaccinated."
The declaration is set to be reevaluated on January 15 next year depending on the Covid situation.
The Governor told Americans her office is intently monitoring the new variant which has saw the US restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
Biden said of the travel ban: "The policy was implemented out of an abundance of caution in light of a new COVID-19 variant circulating in Southern Africa.
"Our scientists and public health officials are working quickly to learn more about this variant."
Experts have made clear that this is the worst variant of the virus that has been seen so far, although its importance is not yet known.
The Omicron has a combination of mutations from several dangerous variants that have evolved in the past year.
Other countries flocked to add the African nations to their travel ban lists in an attempt to keep the powerful variant out.
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