With the arrival of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the United States, some communities are trying to slow down and better understand its spread as scientists study how contagious it is and how it can block the vaccine. Health authorities are reviving contact tracing operations.
In New York City, officials immediately contacted a man who tested positive for the variant and attended an anime conference at the Manhattan Convention Center last month with more than 50,000 people. The other five participants are also infected with the coronavirus, but authorities are not yet sure if it is due to the Omicron variant.
“For what we have learned about this conference at the Javits Center and these additional cases, our testing and tracing team will immediately work with each affected individual to reach out to anyone else. I know what I did. Contact tracing It’s absolutely important. “
Once the epicenter of a pandemic worldwide, New York has one of the largest contract tracking activities in the country. The city identified four cases of Omicron on Thursday, a fifth found in Suffolk County near eastern Long Island.
This variant has been detected in several other states to date, including California, Colorado, and Hawaii.
Contract tracers are busy in Nebraska after six Omicrons were confirmed on Friday. One person recently returned from his visit to Nigeria, and the other five had close ties to that person.
In Philadelphia, authorities were working to track the contact of a man in his thirties who was the first resident of this variant in Pennsylvania, the city’s public health service said.
And in Maryland, authorities were in a hurry to track, quarantine, and test close contact between three people from the Baltimore region, the first known incident in the state. The two are from the same household, including a vaccinated person who recently traveled to South Africa, and the third has no recent travel history and is unrelated to the other two.
Dr. Marcus Precia, Chief Health Officer of the State and Territory Health Officials Association, said in the coming days, with uncertainties about how effective vaccines and treatments such as monoclonal antibodies would be. Increasingly, “contact tracing efforts are expected. Oppose omicron.
Contact tracing is an important tool for pandemic response, allowing the health department to notify people in close contact with infected individuals and slow the progression of COVID-19.
“Contact tracing gives us information about how it’s spreading, and hopefully breaks the chain of communication to stop clusters and outbreaks, or at least we know more about: You can delay them until you understand what the steps need to be, “said senior scholar Crystal Watson at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at Bloomberg Public Health School.
Much is still unknown about the variants, but early reports have warned. The number of new COVID-19 cases in South Africa, which first warned the world of Omicron last week, surged from about 200 cases a day in mid-November to more than 16,000 cases on Friday.
Some cases in the United States involve people who have never traveled recently. This means that this variant may already be endemic in some parts of the country.
In New York, the three-day anime festival in November has a lot of participants, so there is a challenge in staffing tracers. One of the known Omicron infections involved men in Minnesota.
Authorities warned against associating the other five coronavirus cases directly with the event.
“What really matters here are the five cases from the tens of thousands of denominators at this conference. In addition, some link has been established between these five cases and the widespread communication at the conference. “No,” said Ted Long. , Executive Director of NYC Test & Trace Corps, which runs a contact tracing program in New York City.
Hospitalization required proof of vaccination and a mask, as required by city law.
Officials said they had contacted all 36,500 convention attendees, vendors, and exhibitors who had contact information by email, text message, or phone. However, they decided that it was not necessary to contact all attendees, as the infected man did not appear to have close contact based in New York.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, authorities are investigating a “ring of contacts” for men who may have been infected at the meeting, said Chris Elesman, director of the state’s infectious disease department.
“Part of the reason he showed where he was, the anime convention in New York, was because there were so many people attending the event. It’s possible that he and, in fact, everyone was attending. It is not possible to identify everyone. Contact with. “
Health investigators across the United States were overwhelmed and reduced contact tracing operations and found it amid a surge in delta variants. Almost impossible to catch up In the flood of new infections, we will administer vaccines and follow up at the same time.
many Health authorities Ultimately, we focused on exposure at school or potential superspreading events where large numbers of people were at risk of exposure.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, predicts that it will eventually occur in Omicron.
“Contact tracing and sequencing will allow us to paint with a wide range of brushes,” says Schaffner. “But we can’t keep track of all the cases. At some point, we know it’s here and spread, so why should we do that?”
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In some states, contact tracing improves when Omicron reaches the United States.
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