Governor Ned Lamont’s office announced Monday the first case of the so-called “South African” COVID variant has been detected in a Connecticut patient.
In a press release officials said this is the first known case of the variant in a Connecticut resident.
The patient, a Fairfield County resident between the ages of 60-70, has not reported any recent travel and is currently hospitalized out of state, according to officials.
“The individual’s condition is improving,” the press release said.
New York health officials reported the variant case this past weekend and worked with the Connecticut Department of Health to complete contact tracing.
The B.1.351 variant is reportedly more contagious than other strains of the virus and can cause more severe illness than the original COVID-19 strand. The strain — initially detected in South Africa in October 2020 — was first discovered in the United States toward the end of January.
Connecticut has reported 42 cases of the U.K. variant within its borders and now is warning about the new strain.
“Seeing another variant in our state reminds us yet again the severity of this pandemic and reinforces the need for us to take all of the necessary precautions which have proven to be successful over the past year,” Lamont said.
“The virus does not recognize state boundaries, and it certainly does not recognize international borders, which means the responsibility is on all of us to do what we can on a personal basis to mitigate the spread,” he added.
Public health officials emphasized the need for continued caution and mitigation strategies including mask-wearing, social distancing, isolating when sick and avoiding gathering with individuals who do not live in your household.
Acting Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said Connecticut residents should follow recent CDC guidance calling for “double masking in certain circumstances.”
“With the variants currently circulating in the United States and in Connecticut, it is more important than ever to prevent transmission of the virus. We do that by ensuring that masks are being worn correctly and are as effective as possible. Masks should always cover the nose and mouth completely. In some instances, a cloth mask along with a surgical mask may be the best approach according to the CDC, in order to prevent droplets from escaping or entering through gaps in masks,” Gifford said.