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Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

A second case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been detected in the U.S. in a man who had recently attended an anime convention in New York City last month with more than 50,000 attendees.

The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed the infection on Thursday in a resident who lives in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis.  

He was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms, but has since recovered. 

The patient had attended NYC Anime between November 19 and 21, before returning home and testing positive for the virus on November 22. 

During a press conference on, Minnesota health officials said the man has no recent history of international travel, meaning he contracted the variant in the United States in late November – and the variant was already circulating within the country before the world was alerted to it last week.

It comes just one day after health officials in San Francisco, California, revealed the first U.S. Omicron case.

The variant was initially detected by South African officials last week, and experts are uncertain of its origins.

It is believed to be highly infectious and potentially vaccine evasive due to its many mutations. 

South Africa has experienced a massive surge in Covid cases since the variant was first discovered, with the nation reporting 11,535 new cases on Thursday after averaging less than 500 new cases per day only two weeks ago. 

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The second U.S. case of the Omicron variant has been detected in Minnesota. The state health department reports that the infected man had recently traveled to New York City to attend an anime convention. Pictured: A group of cosplayers pose for a photo at Anime NYC

The man developed symptoms on November 22 and subsequently tested positive for Covid in Minnesota. All attendees of the event had to show proof of vaccination. Pictured: A costumed attendee at Anime NYC on November 20

The man developed symptoms on November 22 and subsequently tested positive for Covid in Minnesota. All attendees of the event had to show proof of vaccination. Pictured: A costumed attendee at Anime NYC on November 20

‘Minnesota’s nation-leading genome sequencing infrastructure and strong testing network have allowed the state to quickly track the COVID-19 virus and better understand its spread. Today, those tools detected a case of the Omicron variant in Minnesota,’ said Governor Tim Walz in a statement. 

‘This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise. 

‘We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world. Minnesotans know what to do to keep each other safe now – get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors, and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep Minnesotans safe.’ 

Health officials said the infected patient is an adult male, but did not disclose his age.

He is fully vaccinated, and first began to experience symptoms of Covid on November 22, before the variant had even been identified, and tested positive on November 24.

Minnesota Department of Health officials said at a press conference on Thursday that at least one close contact of the man has tested positive for Covid and has been asked to isolate.

Additionally, there are ten samples taken from Minnesota patients that have placed on ‘high alert’ of potentially being of the Omicron strain.

The man has complied with public health guidelines.

‘He has isolated and done all those things we would want him to do from a public health mitigation standpoint,’ an official said to the media. 

Around 53,000 people attended the three-day convention from November 19 to November 21. Pictured: Two cosplayers at Anime NYC

Around 53,000 people attended the three-day convention from November 19 to November 21. Pictured: Two cosplayers at Anime NYC

All attendees to Anime NYC had to show proof of vaccination in order to attend. Some people allege that IDs were not checked alongside the proof in some cases. There were also allegations of long lines and overcrowding at the event

All attendees to Anime NYC had to show proof of vaccination in order to attend. Some people allege that IDs were not checked alongside the proof in some cases. There were also allegations of long lines and overcrowding at the event

Health officials say he had recently attended Anime NYC – an anime convention at New York’s Javits Center – from November 19 to 21. 

The estimated attendance of the convention was more than 53,000, with people traveling from around the nation to attend. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Thursday that it is likely others in the city have contracted the variant as well.

‘We are aware of a case of the Omicron variant identified in Minnesota that is associated with travel to a conference in New York City, and we should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city,’ de Blasio said in a statement.

‘We are working closely with the State and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], as well as the Javits Center’s event organizers, and our Test and Trace Corps will be contacting conference attendees. This conference required masks and complied with our Key2NYC requirement to mandate vaccination.’

Minnesota health officials report that the infected man felt mild symptoms the quickly resolved. They also say he abided by public health guidelines. Pictured: Two members of the Minnesota National Guard prepare to assist a local hospital treat Covid patients in St Paul on November 22

Minnesota health officials report that the infected man felt mild symptoms the quickly resolved. They also say he abided by public health guidelines. Pictured: Two members of the Minnesota National Guard prepare to assist a local hospital treat Covid patients in St Paul on November 22

He also urged any Anime NYC attendees to get tested as soon as possible. 

Anime NYC was plagued with issues concerning long wait times and alleged failures to properly check vaccine information upon entry to the Javits Center.

Many attendees report that they were stuck in lines for hours to enter the convention, crowded around hundreds of people from outside of their household, putting them at risk of contracting Covid.

Some attendees also reported that IDs were not checked along with vaccine cards – a standard for proof of vaccine requirements – opening the door for potentially fraudulent vaccine cards to allow entry into the event.

Anime NYC released a four page letter to both its Twitter and Facebook page on Tuesday, apologizing for the long wait times and conditions suffered by some trying to attend the event.

The event organizers did not immediately respond to a DailyMail.com request for comment. 

Anime NYC released an apology on Thursday

The group also admitted there was an issue in checking attendees for proof of vaccination

Anime NYC released an apology on Thursday and admitted there were issues with overcrowding and people getting stuck in lines for hours, in close quarters with others

In the letter, Peter Tatara, founder of the convention, mentions that much of the convention center was also overcrowded for the weekend.

‘Everything was packed much, much more,’ he wrote.

‘Why? We underestimated how many fans would come early and spend every moment of the weekend in the convention center.’

He specifically mentions long wait times on the Friday of the convention, November 19, and how the convention was unprepared for the large amount of people that arrived, causing overcrowding.

Comments from earlier in the week, before the Omicron case was linked to the conference, criticize the event for long wait times and selling more tickets than usual during a pandemic, and for the overcrowding.

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

‘So you openly admit you purposely sold even more tickets then 2019 in a pandemic? Pretty ridiculous. Especially since you didn’t check ID’s with vaccine cards,’ one man wrote on Facebook.

‘There were lines and queues literally everywhere, they didn’t even mention the overcrowding in general, and didn’t mention how nothing was adequately spaced for COVID either. Also no mention of their mask policies being repeatedly violated,’ another commenter wrote. 

‘This is excuses for poor planning and over selling tixs,’ said another.

Another commenter alleged that IDs were not being checked alongside proof of Covid vaccination.

‘If covid restrictions are still a thing, you HAVE to have people checking IDs with covid passes. That was a real safety and health risk,’ they said. 

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

There are also many complaints about long lines both to enter the event, and for activities inside of the event. 

‘Lines for everything. The lines didn’t get significantly better on Saturday. Lines to get in. Lines for coat check. Lines for all the food stalls. Lines for panel rooms that are still way too small. Lines for the bathroom. This absolutely was not ideal at all,’ one man wrote. 

‘Definitely need better lines and more staff. It should not take an hour just to get in the door especially if you already picked up passes and the vaccination wristband,’ another person wrote on Facebook. 

One person even alleges that some people had to sit on top of each other due to how long some of the lines were.

‘I had a long list of [panels] I wanted to check out but the lines made it impossible. There was a crazy hold up on Saturday downstairs with queuing, alot of people sat on the floor basically on eachother after a escalator closed down,’ they wrote.

Another eventgoer reported that some people had to leave some of the outdoor lines early due to how cold it was, fearing hypothermia.

‘Many people had bad experiences on Friday, from almost wetting themselves and had to bail out to use a bathroom, to getting hypothermia,’ the commenter wrote.

‘…Plus, both bag checks were so quickly full on Saturday.’

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said at a news conference on Thursday that the man’s symptoms were mild, and have already resolved. 

She noted that all attendees of the event the man attended had to show proof of vaccination. 

‘We’re not defenseless against this variant,’ Hochul said, encouraging New Yorkers to get vaccinated and wear masks in public places to protect themselves. 

‘In addition to vaccination and boosters, we can slow the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the tried-and-true prevention methods of wearing masks, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.’  

‘I don’t want anyone to panic over this,’ Hochul said.

The man had attended in event at

Not much is known about the variant just yet, but many health officials fear the worst.

The variant was first detected in South Africa last week, but is believed to have originated in either Botswana or in a European country.

South African health officials are reporting that cases of the variant they have seen so far have been more mild than those of other variants. 

It has 50 mutations, including more than 30 on the spike protein that the COVID-19 vaccines target to prevent infection.

For comparison, the Delta variant – which was responsible for a massive surge of cases in the U.S. over summer – only had seven mutations of the spike protein.

The Covid Genomics UK Consortium released imaging on Thursday showing just how drastic the differences between the Delta and Omicron variant are. 

Nearly 400 cases of the variant have been confirmed across 34 countries worldwide. 

Because of these many infections, vaccine experts fear the shots could be rendered ineffective against the new variant. 

Cases have also begun to skyrocket in South Africa after the variant was first detected there, another worrying sign for health officials.

The largest Omicron variant outbreak in the world so far may be a result of a Christmas party last month.

Over 100 Scatec employees traveled from Norway to Cape Town, South Africa, for a Christmas event in November.

Upon return, somewhere between 50 to 60 of them tested positive for Covid, with at least one being a confirmed case of the Omicron variant.

It is feared that many, if not all, of the cases will revealed to be of the variant once sequenced. 

All attendees to the Cape Town trip were fully vaccinated, Scatec reports, and none of the infected have suffered a serious illness so far.

Nothing can be said for certain yet, though, and more information is expected to be gathered about the variant over the next few weeks.

‘We still have more to learn about Omicron, but the most important thing we can do right now is to use the tools we have available to make it as hard as possible for this virus to spread,’ Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.  

Images release by the Covid Genomics UK Consortium show the drastic increase in spike protein mutations in the Omciron COVID-19 variant when compared to the Delta variant

Images release by the Covid Genomics UK Consortium show the drastic increase in spike protein mutations in the Omciron COVID-19 variant when compared to the Delta variant 

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

She also said that this time the state would not be caught off guard like it was in March 2020, when New York City suffered a massive surge right at the start of the pandemic. 

On Wednesday, the first case of Omicron in the U.S. was sequenced in San Francisco, California.

That person – whose gender was not revealed – had recently travelled from South Africa, according to local officials and was fully vaccinated.

‘The individual is self quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted and all close contacts thus far have tested negative,’ Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters during a briefing. 

California Governor Gavin Newsome said that the person is between the ages of 18 to 49.

American officials are cautioning citizens, but warning them not to panic in the wake of a new threat, though. 

President Biden said Wednesday that officials are still learning more, but the ‘jury’s still out’ on if it poses a threat to fully vaccinated Americans.

‘We’re going to know in the next several weeks just not only how transmissible the disease is but how extensive it is, how dangerous it is and what damage it does, and most importantly, whether the vaccines we have are capable of dealing with this virus,’ the President said. 

The U.S. moved on Monday to shut down travel from eight southern African nations including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

Biden also plans to unveil his winter Covid plan on Thursday, which includes increased vaccination and and new travel requirements.

The President plans to push the Food and Drug Administration to allow for children under the age of five to get vaccinated against Covid – as they are the remaining ineligible age group in the U.S.

Such a move would place the U.S. among a short list of countries which have approved vaccines for children this young: China, Cuba, Argentina and Venezuela.

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

Biden also plans to require an inbound U.S. travelers to produce a negative Covid test within 24 hours of travel.

Private insurers will also be required to cover the costs of at-home testing. 

The administration is also extending the mask mandate for public transport until March 18. 

Originally, the requirements in airports and in airplanes, buses and trains was set to expire in mid-January, but is again being extended with the emergence of the Omicron variant. 

The CDC is also working to contact trace people who may be exposed to the new variant and prevent spread of the virus.

‘CDC has been actively monitoring and preparing for this variant,’ Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the agency, said in a statement.

‘…CDC has expanded its capacity for genomic sequencing over the past nine months and we have more tools to fight the variant than we had at this time last year from vaccines to boosters to the prevention strategies that we know work including masking in indoor public settings, washing your hands frequently and physical distancing.’

Vaccine manufacturers are also working quickly to gather data on the new variant, and have shown willingness to rollout potential Omicron specific booster shots if needed.

Dr Ugar Sahin, founder of BioNTech – which is partnering with Pfizer for the rollout of its Covid vaccine – said earlier this week that he believes his company’s shot can still prevent serious complications from the variant, even if it can cause breakthrough infections. 

A Moderna executive said on Wednesday that this company would have an Omicron-specific booster shot available as early as March if necessary.

BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson have both also announced plans to work on an Omicron specific vaccine, if necessary.  

Second US case of Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in Minnesota

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