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2 more cases of South African COVID-19 variant confirmed in Maryland – WBAL TV Baltimore

Health officials identified more cases of the South African COVID-19 B.1.351 variant in Maryland.|| Coronavirus updates | Maryland’s latest numbers | Get tested | Vaccine Info ||Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed two additional cases of the South African variant in Maryland. The two individuals, who recently traveled abroad, live in Montgomery County. Contact tracing is underway and close contacts are isolating.The first case of the South African variant in Maryland was confirmed Saturday in a patient who had no recent travel history.State officials said the B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other variants. The variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains.While speaking Tuesday with The Washington Post, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the South African variant is likely to spread more in the United States.”The fact that they are recognized in people who have not had a trip to South Africa means that there’s community spread and more people are infected. You could not even imagine for a moment that it’s going to be staying essentially restricted to just a few people. So it’s here and it likely will spread more,” said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Fauci said the virus is likely to gain more mutations and that the country needs to be prepared to upgrade vaccines if any future strains mutate to the point where the vaccines are no longer effective.According to the governor’s office, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of available vaccines against the B.1.351 variant; however, initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant. It is also expected that currently available diagnostic tests will detect the B.1.351 variant.”State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Saturday. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing and physical distancing.”The B.1.351 variant was initially detected in South Africa. It was first identified in the United States on Thursday through two cases in South Carolina.Viruses constantly change, or mutate, and new variants of viruses are expected to occur over time.The B.1.351 variant is the second variant of COVID-19 identified in Maryland. The first variant identified in Maryland was B.1.1.7, commonly known as “the UK variant,” which MDH announced that it identified on Jan. 12. Seven total cases of B.1.1.7 have been identified in Maryland since that time.

Health officials identified more cases of the South African COVID-19 B.1.351 variant in Maryland.

|| Coronavirus updates | Maryland’s latest numbers | Get tested | Vaccine Info ||

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed two additional cases of the South African variant in Maryland. The two individuals, who recently traveled abroad, live in Montgomery County. Contact tracing is underway and close contacts are isolating.

The first case of the South African variant in Maryland was confirmed Saturday in a patient who had no recent travel history.

State officials said the B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other variants. The variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains.

While speaking Tuesday with The Washington Post, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the South African variant is likely to spread more in the United States.

“The fact that they are recognized in people who have not had a trip to South Africa means that there’s community spread and more people are infected. You could not even imagine for a moment that it’s going to be staying essentially restricted to just a few people. So it’s here and it likely will spread more,” said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci said the virus is likely to gain more mutations and that the country needs to be prepared to upgrade vaccines if any future strains mutate to the point where the vaccines are no longer effective.

According to the governor’s office, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of available vaccines against the B.1.351 variant; however, initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant. It is also expected that currently available diagnostic tests will detect the B.1.351 variant.

“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Saturday. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing and physical distancing.”

The B.1.351 variant was initially detected in South Africa. It was first identified in the United States on Thursday through two cases in South Carolina.

Viruses constantly change, or mutate, and new variants of viruses are expected to occur over time.

The B.1.351 variant is the second variant of COVID-19 identified in Maryland. The first variant identified in Maryland was B.1.1.7, commonly known as “the UK variant,” which MDH announced that it identified on Jan. 12. Seven total cases of B.1.1.7 have been identified in Maryland since that time.

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