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Doctors keeping close eye on China due to rise in new Omicron subvariant cases

Doctors eye China amid new wave of COVID infections
Doctors have eyes fixed on China as new wave of COVID infections force quarantine of big cities 01:58

NEW YORK -- As COVID cases drop across the U.S., concerns are growing over a spike in infections in China.

CBS2's Christina Fan has more on the response to this latest surge.

Just as New Yorkers begin embracing a post-COVID world without masks or mandates, health officials are again nervously watching China.

A fast-spreading Omicron subvariant known as BA2 is fueling the worst outbreak in the country since the pandemic began.

"It's transmissibility is much easier. You can be in contact with someone for a briefer period of time and still get it," said Dr. Ernest Patti of St. Barnabas Hospital.

Entire cities in China were placed under lockdown this weekend, including Shenzhen, which has 17.5 million people, and Changchun, with a population of 9 million.

Data from the New York State Health Department shows BA2 is doubling in proportion statewide every two weeks, accounting for 10 percent of new infections.

"I still think folks have to practice common sense. If someone is sick, they really should avoid that family gathering," Patti said.

Here in the U.S., COVID cases have plunged to the lowest levels in eight months, but breakthrough cases are still interrupting life.

Actress Sarah Snook missed accepting her Best Supporting Actress award at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday because of a positive test. On Broadway, cases caused a matinee performance of "Hadestown" to be canceled over the weekend.

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, said on Face the Nation on Sunday a fourth vaccine dose is necessary.

"The protection that you are getting from the third, it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths. It's not that good against infections. It doesn't last very long," Bourla said.

Pfizer says it is also working on a variation of the vaccine, specifically targeting variants.

Doctors say getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself. So far, 81 percent of Americans have received at least one dose.

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