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Health officials monitor spread of new ‘stealth’ variant of Omicron in Europe, detected in US – CBS New York

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Health officials monitor spread of new ‘stealth’ variant of Omicron in Europe, detected in US – CBS New York

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NEW JERSEY (CBS New York) — The first cases of a new subvariant of Omicron are beginning to be seen in the tri-state area.

They arrived as an appeals court prepares to rule on the New York state mask mandate, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday.

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The crucial hearing will take place on Friday as the court hears further arguments to decide whether to eliminate the statewide concealment requirement.

“There are good points and bad points, but I think it’s good in general for everyone to wear masks,” said Nicholas Ng of Massapequa.

A lower court overturned the warrant, but it was temporarily reinstated until the Court of Appeal could rule.

“Everyone should do what they feel comfortable doing and if there’s a mandate to wear a mask, I definitely will,” said George Trapp of Hell’s Kitchen.


The showdown over the masks comes as a new Omicron sub-variant has been detected, sparking new fears.

Some scientists fear it may no longer be contagious, but say there’s still a lot they don’t know about it, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Thursday.

“They call it the ‘stealth’ variant because it’s really very easily transmitted,” said Dr. Perry Halkitis of the Rutgers School of Public Health.

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The latest version of the coronavirus that scientists call BA.2 is considered stealthier than the original. Its genetic traits make it harder to detect and more contagious.

“We put all these barriers in place for the virus to pass, like with vaccines and people with natural immunity and the combination of the two,” Halkitis said. “As the virus mutates, it tries to find smarter ways to enter.”

It is also more difficult to classify positive cases of the new variant as Omicron in PCR tests.

“The cause for concern is that it seems to be spreading very quickly in some European countries, for example Denmark, and they are already saying that it could be one and a half times more infectious than Omicron,” said the epidemiologist Ayman El-. Mohandes, dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, said. “It represents more than half of the cases, 60% of the cases. There is no indication that it is harsher than the original Omicron variant.

“As far as I know, he was diagnosed in Washington State. He was diagnosed in California and Texas. But it won’t surprise me at all that soon after, we’ll see him all over the country” , he added.


El-Mohandes urged people to use common sense and stay alert, wear masks, avoid crowded places and stay home when feeling sick.

These strategies can help protect the most vulnerable, he said, such as children under five (who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated), the elderly and immunocompromised people.

Health officials continue to say that the best protection against serious illness is to be fully vaccinated and fortified.

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CBS2’s Dick Brennan and Meg Baker contributed to this report.

Health officials monitor spread of new ‘stealth’ variant of Omicron in Europe, detected in US – CBS New York

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