Costumed attendees take a break during Anime NYC at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on November 20.Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images
A man who tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant says 15 of his friends are also sick.
The man and a group of 30 people attended an anime convention in New York City last month.
It’s unclear if his friends also have the Omicron variant, but health officials are investigating.
A Minnesota man who attended an anime convention in New York last month — and later tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant — has reportedly told health officials that 15 of his friends have also contracted COVID-19.
It’s unclear whether any of those people also caught the Omicron variant, health officials told media outlets. The man was one of the first reported cases of the Omicron variant in the United States, prompting questions of whether the variant spread throughout the convention, which tens of thousands of people attended.
“It’s hard to say that it is a super spreader. Certainly we’re concerned about that,” Kathy Como-Sabetti, manager of the COVID-19 epidemiology section for the Minnesota Department of Public Health, told The New York Times.
Officials in New York and Minnesota and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the variant’s possible spread and tracing the man’s contacts, according to The Washington Post.
“We don’t know if we’ll see a lot of Omicron, or we’ll see a lot of Delta,” Kris Ehresmann, the director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health, told The Post. “But we’re likely to see a lot of COVID.”
The man had attended the late-November convention as part of a group of 30 people from across the United States — half of whom are now sick, he told health officials.
Convention organizers noted that it’s still unclear where the man contracted the Omicron variant and that he might not have even picked it up at the convention at all. Organizers said all event attendees were required to wear masks and have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“There have been no other mass cases reported from our event, and we are now way past two weeks” since the convention ended, Kelly Comboni, president of LeftField Media, which organized the convention, told The Times.
The Times also reported Saturday that the man had been fully vaccinated and received a booster weeks before attending the convention. His symptoms were mild, and he has turned over the names and contact information of some of his friends to health officials, according to The Times.
New York officials announced Saturday that three new cases of the Omicron variant have appeared in New York state, bringing the total number of reported cases to eight.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has urged calm and said the Omicron cases are “no cause for alarm,” though health officials are taking the situation “extremely seriously.”
Though most reported Omicron cases so far have been mild or asymptomatic, experts have cautioned that hospitalization data is too preliminary to draw conclusions on the variant’s severity.
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