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US confirms more cases of omicron variant, Biden adds travel rules

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 variant named omicron during a visit to the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 2, 2021, in Bethesda, Md. (AP photo)

More cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus were confirmed in the United States on Thursday, a sign that infections are likely to spread throughout the country.

Five cases were detected in New York state, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a press conference Thursday evening.

One case was located in Suffolk County, while three others were in New York City, according to Hochul, who added a fifth suspected case has also been detected.

In Colorado, a woman, who lives in Arapahoe County, has tested positive for the omicron, said the state's department of health. She is fully vaccinated but has not yet received the booster, according to the department.

In addition, a man in Minnesota with recent travel history to New York City has become the state's first confirmed case of the new variant. He has been vaccinated.

In California, one person tested positive for the omicron - the country’s first case - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday.

The patient, a resident of San Francisco who was fully vaccinated, has recently returned from South Africa, according to the CDC.

The discovery triggered fears across the nation over the impact of the Omicron variant, which was first reported in South Africa last month and has since spread to at least two dozen countries.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced his plan to fight the Omicron and Delta coronavirus variants over the winter, while warning that infections will rise this winter.

Among the measures are free and insurer-funded at-home COVID-19 testing and new requirements for international travelers.

"We're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion," Biden said at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, while warning that infections will rise this winter.

"The actions I'm announcing are ones that all Americans can rally behind and should unite us in the fight against COVID-19," he said.

"All inbound international travelers must test within one day of departure, regardless of their vaccination status or nationality," he added.

"This tighter testing timetable provides an added degree of protection as scientists continue to study the omicron variant."


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