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First case of new COVID-19 strain detected in Georgia

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First case of new COVID-19 strain detected in Georgia

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Medical personnel stand ready to begin testing people for the COVID-19 virus at the House of Hope Atlanta pop up site May 4. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Atlanta, GA — The state Department of Public Health announced on Jan. 5 that it has identified its first case of a variant COVID-19 strain that was discovered in the U.K. and has been found in other countries around the world, including other parts of the United States.

The variant is considered more contagious than the current form of COVID-19 that has been spreading throughout the U.S. since the spring of 2020.

“The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is announcing Georgia’s first case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the U.K. and in several other countries and U.S. states,” a press release from the Health Department says. “The variant was discovered during analysis of a specimen sent by a pharmacy in Georgia to a commercial lab.”

The patient is an 18-year-old Georgia man who has no travel history and is isolating at home.

“DPH is working to identify close contacts of the individual and will monitor them closely and test them for the variant,” the Health Department reported. “Preliminary epidemiologic information suggests that this variant is significantly more contagious than the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So far, there is no evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.”

DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said, “The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians. 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.”

For an explainer about the new strain of the virus compiled by USA Today, click here. USA Today reports that, “Researchers believe current COVID-19 vaccines will likely protect against B.1.1.7, but data is needed. The virus would ‘likely need to accumulate multiple mutations in the spike protein to evade immunity induced by vaccines or by natural infection,’ according to the CDC.”

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