Governor of New York State in the United States (US) has declared a state of emergency ahead of the potential arrival of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron in the country.
The declaration, which takes effect on the third of next month, allows the state to better position itself for a possible wave of new infections. This includes increasing hospital capacity.
Governor Kathy Hochul issued her emergency declaration citing increasing infection rates and hospitalizations.
It also allows the state’s health department to limit non-essential and non-urgent procedures while increasing hospital capacity.
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Hochul’s statement also points to the state experiencing COVID-19 transmission rates not seen since April 2020.
The move comes after US President Joe Biden issued a new proclamation restricting travel from several southern African countries including South Africa after the emergence of a new variant in the region.
The restrictions apply to non-citizens of the US who have been physically present in 8 southern African countries during a 14-day period preceding their attempted entry into the US.
Dr Fundile Nyati on the Omicron variant: