Raleigh, N.C. — At least three cases of a COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom have been detected in North Carolina.
Medical experts say the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in December, is more contagious but no more deadly than COVID-19. According to the CDC, 195 cases of U.K. variant have been detected in 21 U.S. states as of Jan. 22.
The Guilford County Division of Public Health confirmed a positive COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant case in Guilford County on Jan. 27, according to a press release, and WITN News reports another case of the U.K. strain was reported in Onslow County on Jan. 11.
Dr. Iulia Vann, Guilford County’s Public Health Director, said the county is conducting contact tracing and “will continue to heavily monitor this case.”
Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against the new variant, but practicing the three W’s — wash hands, wear a mask and wait 6 feet apart — is more important than ever, according to officials.
“While expected, identification of this COVID-19 variant in North Carolina is concerning, especially at the same time as we are already seeing very high numbers of cases,” said Mandy Cohen, NCDHHS Secretary.
State health officials advise people to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people who do not live with you.
If you absolutely must travel or be with people you do not live with, get tested in advance, keep it small and outdoors and always wear a mask.