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NYC's new health commissioner addresses Omicron subvariant in his first COVID-19 briefing

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also discussed what the public should know about the new variant and whether it currently poses a threat to the public.

News 12 Staff

Mar 18, 2022, 4:56 PM

Updated 822 days ago

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New York City's new health commissioner provided his first COVID-19 briefing Friday and addressed concerns on the rise about infections linked to the new sub-Omicron variant BA.2.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also discussed what the public should know about the new variant and whether it currently poses a threat to the public.
New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said the private business vaccine mandates will stay in place indefinitely and that students under 5 must remain masked at school for now.
Officials say they're continuing to monitor hospitalization rates.
"BA.2 is a sub lineage of Omicron and it has been increasing over the last several weeks. We have been seeing that. At the same time, the overall case numbers have been relatively stable," said Dr. Celia Quinn, of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The city's Health Department has the current COVID-19 alert level in the city as low. Current data from the city shows a 3.4 hospitalization rate of new admissions of COVID-19 within the last seven days.
Vasan said symptoms of the new variant are similar to Omicron.
"Might be more associated with symptoms above the lungs, less respiratory compromise and more upper respiratory tract, the stuffy nose, the itchy eyes, the runny nose," Vasan said.
Right now, officials said there's is no evidence that the subvariant causes more severe illness or that current COVID-19 vaccines are less effective against it. Nevertheless, they said that New Yorkers should remain vigilant.
Health officials also urged eligible New Yorkers to get boosted and recommended the use of at-home tests to reduce the spread of the virus.
VACCINE INFORMATION: What you need to know


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