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Man Who Had Omicron Says Friends Also Got Sick After NYC Anime Convention

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Still, the prospect of a cluster of cases raised new questions about the nation’s virus detection capabilities and the limits of its contact-tracing efforts, which have been disparate and limited since the start of the pandemic.

Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that he was concerned about the contact-tracing ability of health departments across the country, given their strained resources and the public’s general lack of cooperation with investigators. Also worrisome, he said, is the small number of cases that are being tested for the Omicron variant.

“Very quickly we’re going to see a number of Omicron cases around the country in many locations, just as we’ve seen in Minnesota,” he said.

After Minnesota officials learned that the convention attendee had the Omicron variant, they informed the New York City Health Department. City health officials said that they had begun sending text messages and emails to tens of thousands of the anime convention’s attendees, urging them to get tested.

Dr. Ted Long, who oversees the city’s contact tracing program, said that he was aware of five positive cases so far among New York City residents who attended the anime convention. But he said it was not yet known if those people had been infected by Omicron or Delta, nor was the convention known to be the site where they had gotten sick.

“We haven’t found evidence of widespread transmission at the convention,” Adam Shrier, a spokesman for New York City’s contact tracing program, Test and Trace Corps, wrote in an email.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting the Minnesota and New York City health departments in tracking any cases, a spokeswoman said, but details were still being worked out on Saturday morning. C.D.C. disease investigators held a conference call on Saturday morning with officials from local health departments.

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