A Washtenaw County woman has contracted a coronavirus variant which is believed to be more contagious, the state health department announced Saturday.
The woman had recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant originated, and is now the only known case of B.1.1.7 in Michigan, which joins 16 other states where the variant has been identified.
While the woman is the only known case in the state, it is possible there are more that have not been identified. Two new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed from close contacts of the woman, but it is not yet known whether they are infected with the variant.
Her close contacts have been identified and are in quarantine.
“The discovery of this variant in Michigan is concerning, but not unexpected,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in a release. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
Although the variant is believed to be more contagious, there has been no evidence that it is more severe than the familiar SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, current vaccines for COVID-19 will also work against the variant. The danger comes in the increase of hospitalizations due to its higher rate of transmission.
“We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn,” Khaldun said.
Residents are encouraged to continue to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.