TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey has identified its first two cases of the COVID-19 variant seen in the United Kingdom, New Jersey’s top health official said Friday. The variant is believed to be more transmissible but it’s unclear whether it’s deadlier, Gov. Phil Murphy said during a news conference.

“Today, we are reporting two confirmed COVID-19 variant cases involving the B117, or the U.K. variant, have been identified in New Jersey,” Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

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One case involves a man in his 60s from Ocean County whose symptoms have since resolved, according to Persichilli. He had no history of travel, she added.

The second case involved a child who stayed in northern New Jersey and has a history of traveling. The child tested positive in New York earlier this month, Persichilli said, and state officials are working with their New York counterparts on tracing contacts.

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Scientists in the U.K. has said they believe the variant is more contagious than previously identified strains. The vaccines being given now are thought to be effective against the variant, officials have said.

The development comes as New Jersey opened up a mass vaccination site at the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County, one of six such locations across the state. Once vaccine supply reaches demand the sites are expected to vaccinate 2,000 people a day, Murphy has said.

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Murphy also reported an additional 118 deaths from the virus overnight, putting the total at 18,754.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Jersey fell slightly over the past two weeks, from 5,403 new cases per day on Jan. 7 to 5,210 new cases per day on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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