Georgia has its first confirmed case of a new COVID-19 variant that is “significantly more contagious” than the virus that caused the pandemic, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom in November and has spread quickly with England returning to full lockdown mode this week.
The main COVID-19 virus is called SARS-CoV-2, and the variant virus is known as “B.1.1.7.” The person infected with the variant is an 18-year-old man with no travel history who is in isolation at home, according to a DPH press release. DPH did not respond to a question about the man’s county of residence. “The variant was discovered during analysis of a specimen sent by a pharmacy in Georgia to a commercial lab,” DPH said in the press release.
B.1.1.7. is believed to be more contagious than SARS-CoV-2, but so far, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death, according to DPH.
“The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Katheen E. Toomey in the release. “Even as we begin roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must not let down our guard and ignore basic prevention measures — wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently.”