Texas health officials identify state’s first case of new Covid strain found in UK

Medical workers look at a affected person affected by coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at United Memorial Medical Center on November 16, 2020 in Houston, Texas.

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Texas public health officials introduced on Thursday that they’ve recognized the state’s first case of a new, extra contagious variant of the coronavirus that was initially found in the United Kingdom.

The affected person, a person between the ages of 30 and 40 with no current journey historical past, was found in Harris County, residence to Houston, the county’s public health division mentioned in a press release. The man was isolating and in steady situation, and native infectious illness consultants are tracing all of his contacts to seek out and monitor different individuals he might have uncovered to the virus.

It’s probably that the variant is already circulating in Texas as a result of the person had no prior journey historical past, Dr. John Hellerstedt, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, mentioned in a press release. He added that genetic variations in viruses “are the norm,” and it is not stunning that the variant was found in Texas contemplating how quickly it spreads.

“This should make us all redouble our commitment to the infection prevention practices that we know work: masks any time you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene,” Hellerstedt mentioned.

The strain, which has additionally been found in California, Georgia, New York, Florida and Colorado, is regarded as extra transmissible however does not seem to make individuals extra ailing or enhance the danger of loss of life from Covid-19, consultants have mentioned. Earlier on Thursday, Pennsylvania health authorities mentioned they recognized their state’s first case with the new variant, often called B.1.1.7.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s prime elected official, mentioned in a tweet on Thursday that the invention of the variant in the realm is “disturbing” given the already speedy unfold in the realm.

As of Thursday, the county remained in its most extreme “level one” risk stage, which implies testing and get in touch with tracing efforts are strained and outbreaks are “present or worsening,” in accordance with the county’s web site.

When the county is in this stage, residents are suggested to solely depart their houses for important functions and reduce their contacts with different individuals when doable.

Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have mentioned that the present vaccines ought to work towards the new variant, although it may result in extra hospitalizations if allowed to unfold unchecked. Federal health officials are additionally looking out for a second separate new strain first recognized in South Africa.

The CDC doesn’t but know the way widespread the new B.1.1.7. variant is in the United States. The company now requires all airline passengers touring to the United States from the United Kingdom to current, earlier than boarding, proof of a damaging Covid-19 check taken not more than three days earlier than their departure.

— CNBC’s Will Feuer contributed to this report.

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