Officials in Texas and Connecticut have announced that the UK variant of Covid-19 has been identified in their states.
The variant appears to spread more easily, although there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Harris County Public Health in Texas said in a statement Thursday the first patient was a male between 30 and 40 with no travel history, which implies the variant has been transmitted locally.
He is “stable, in isolation, and will remain there until cleared by public health officials.” The health department said it is finding close contacts, quarantining them, and conducting a “thorough investigation” with state health authorities.
Later, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said health officials in his state had identified two cases of the variant, which would bring the count for the US to at least 56 cases.
“The two individuals are between the ages of 15 and 25 and both reside in New Haven County. Both individuals recently traveled outside Connecticut – one to Ireland and the other to New York State – and both developed symptoms within 3 to 4 days of their return,” Lamont’s office said in a statement.
“Genetic sequencing of the virus has confirmed that the two cases are unrelated. The individuals’ specimens were collected earlier this month and subsequently tested positive.”
The new variant can only be identified with genomic sequencing, an extra step to the testing that diagnosis infection in people.
But experts say there may be many more cases that have been circulating unidentified.
At least eight states have now confirmed a case of the variant. The others are California, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.