DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – Pennsylvania health officials announced Thursday the state’s first confirmed case of the new COVID-19 variant. The variant is the same one that was first discovered in England in mid-December, according to Pennsylvania health officials.
However, Public Health England suggests the variant first emerged in the UK in September 2020.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says the confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 is in Dauphin County. The individual tested positive after known international exposure.
The individual had mild symptoms, which have since been resolved while they completed their isolation at home.
“Pennsylvania has been preparing for this variant by working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been sending 10-35 random samples biweekly to the CDC since November to study sequencing and detect any potential cases for this new COVID-19 variant,” Dr. Levine said. “Public health experts are in the early stages of working to better understand this new variant, how it spreads and how it affects people who are infected with it.”
Officials say a case investigation and contact tracing were performed to identify, inform and monitor anyone who was in close contact with this individual.
“There is still much to learn about this new variant, so we need to remain vigilant and continue to urge Pennsylvanians to stop the spread by washing their hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings, downloading COVID Alert PA and answering the call. Stay calm, stay alert and stay safe,” Dr. Levine said.
According to health officials, the new variant is said to be more contagious, though there is no evidence so far that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
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