The first case of the more contagious South African variant of coronavirus was discovered in Massachusetts, health officials said Tuesday.
The woman in her twenties who was found to have the variant of the B.1.351 virus lives in Middlesex County and has not reported any trips, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health.
Coronavirus researchers at the Broad Institute who worked with state health officials confirmed that the variant was present in Massachusetts through genetic sequencing, according to the Department of Public Health.
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The announcement did not indicate where the woman is believed to be infected.
“The best defense against a rapid surge in cases due to worrying variants is to prevent the spread of COVID,” said the health ministry announcement.
Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, an infectious disease doctor at Boston Medical Center, says the best thing people can do to protect themselves from all varieties is to continue to follow safety measures like social distancing, wearing masks, and the vaccine when he does Is available to you.
“As for the South African variant, the good news is that the vaccines we approved in the US continue to work, but not as well. This actually underscores the importance of following public health measures and getting them soon Vaccinate as possible, “she said.
While coronavirus cases are declining across the country, there are new concerns about what is known as the UK variant of coronavirus. The particularly contagious strain of the virus spreads primarily from person to person in Massachusetts, not from international travel.
This variant, first discovered in South Africa, is known to spread quickly between people. It is one of several varieties that are monitored in the state and in the United States
Massachusetts has 34 known cases of variant B.1.1.7 that were first discovered in the United Kingdom and no cases of variant P.1 that were first found in Brazil, state health officials said Tuesday.
“These variants seem to spread easier and faster than other variants, which can lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths,” it said the coronavirus variants page of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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The South African variant was first identified in the US last month after being discovered in South Africa in October, according to the CDC.
The vaccines currently being launched in Massachusetts are believed to prevent effective diseases from infections caused by the variants. However, officials have warned that the increased portability of the new variants here could trigger the next wave of COVID-19 infections – the British variant has triggered new lockdown measures there.
“I hope we can get as many vaccinations as possible over the coming weeks and months as the variant is here,” said Dr. Jon Santiago, a state representative and doctor at Boston Medical Center, told NBC10 Boston last week
Health officials are releasing new guidelines for a safe reopening, but many teachers say they are very concerned about what lies ahead.
The CDC warned last week that the spread of more contagious varieties could force them to rethink their guidelines for reopening schools.
“When we get to a point here where we are beyond the red zone and there is a really high level of community spread in terms of the variants or just more transmission, we may need to double-check,” said CDC- Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. who was previously the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.