COVID-19 Variant Diagnosed in Franklin County Resident
A more-highly contagious variant of COVID-19 has been diagnosed in a resident of Franklin County.
The variant is called B.1.1.7 and was originally found in the United Kingdom. As of Tuesday, the United States Centers for Disease Control had reported 932 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant in Maine and 34 other states.
Maine CDC officials say the Franklin County resident developed symptoms in early February and tested positive for COVID-19. A sample was sent to an independent laboratory, as part of the Maine CDC's process to identify potential variants, and it was discovered that this was a case of B.1.1.7. The affected individual has a history of international travel, which seems to be the case in other states, as well. They are isolating, as well as other household members who tested positive for COVID-19. The Maine CDC is notifying close contacts, as well, who will be required to quarantine.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC says health officials have been expecting the arrival of B.1.1.7. in Maine, and recognize the concern this case may cause, given the fact that it appears to spread more easily.
It is more important than ever that Maine people remain vigilant in taking the steps that prevent the spread of COVID-19 - wearing face coverings, staying at least 6 feet apart, avoiding gatherings, and washing hands frequently.
In addition, Shah says, people should continue to stay home if they're feeling sick and get tested if they start showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Shah says scientific evidence suggests that currently available vaccines are effective against the B.1.1.7 variant. Given the fact that this variant is highly contagious, he says more cases may be identified in Maine.
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
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