The so-called "South African" variant of the COVID-19 virus has been detected in a Connecticut patient for the first time, according to the Department of Public Health.
The B.1.351 variant was found in a Fairfield County resident between the ages of 60 and 70 who had not traveled recently. The person is currently hospitalized out of state, DPH said.
Connecticut was notified of the diagnosis by health officials in New York.
The B.1.351 variant is more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus. This strain of the virus was first detected in South Africa in October 2020 and was first discovered in the United States at the end of January 2021, according to a news release.
“Seeing another variant in our state reminds us yet again the severity of this pandemic and reinforces the need for us to take all of the necessary precautions which have proven to be successful over the past year. The virus does not recognize state boundaries, and it certainly does not recognize international borders, which means the responsibility is on all of us to do what we can on a personal basis to mitigate the spread,” said Gov. Ned Lamont.
With the discovery of the new B.1.351 variant, as well as 42 confirmed cases in Connecticut of the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the UK, health officials urged residents to continue vigilance when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing.
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Correction (Feb. 15, 2021 4:21 p.m.) An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information from DPH that the B.1.351 variant caused more serious illness than the original strain of COVID-19. DPH now says CDC guidance shows no evidence it causes more severe illness.