GEORGIA (WRBL) – The new strain of the COVID-19 virus is now in the state of Georgia, state officials confirm.
According to officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the state has recorded its first case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7.
“The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians,” said DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.
DPH officials say the the variant was discovered during an analysis of a specimen sent by a pharmacy in Georgia to a commercial lab.
According to officials the variant strain was detected in the patient, who is described as an “18-year-old male with no travel history.”
The specific location in the state for the patient, who is currently in self-isolation, has not been released.
Officials say they are working to identify close contacts of the individual and will monitor them closely and test them for the variant.
Early information suggests that the variant is significantly more contagious than the original, according to officials. Toomey says all Georgians should use caution.
“Even as we begin roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must not let down our guard and ignore basic prevention measures – wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently,” said Toomey.
So far, there is no evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death, according to health officials.
The variant has been discovered in the United Kingdom and in several other countries. So far in the United States, the new strain has been identified in the states of California, Colorado, Florida, and New York.