Pennsylvania has confirmed its first case of the U.K. coronavirus variant in a Dauphin County resident who had known international exposure. The patient, who was not identified by name, age or sex, had mild symptoms that resolved while isolating at home.
Contract tracing was performed and a case investigation was conducted, a news release posted Thursday said.
“Pennsylvania has been preparing for this variant by working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been sending 10-35 random samples biweekly to the CDC since November to study sequencing and detect any potential cases for this new COVID-19 variant,” Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health, said in the news release.
“Public health experts are in the early stages of working to better understand this new variant, how it spreads and how it affects people who are infected with it,” Levine continued.
There have been over 50 cases of the strain detected in the U.S.
Levine urged residents to “remain vigilant” and continue practicing public health measures as “there is still much to learn about this new variant.”
The news comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a map reflecting where the U.K. strain had been detected in the U.S. At the time, the agency had confirmed 52 cases of the mutation spread across California, Florida, New York, Colorado and Georgia.
Health officials and experts have warned that the strain appears to be highly transmissible – more so than the first strain of coronavirus detected in the early days of the pandemic – and may even overtake the original strain within a matter of weeks.
Thus far, Pfizer and BioNTech have voiced confidence in its COVID-19 vaccine’s ability to protect against the strain, while also touting the flexibility of the technology should a tweak need to be made.