Card queuing at a rapid Covid-19 testing site in the US last month. SIPA USA/PA Images

US detects first case of UK coronavirus variant in Colorado

The case was confirmed in a man in his 20s who had no close contacts.

THE US STATE of Colorado has recorded what is reportedly the United States’ first case of the new coronavirus variant that was first identified in the UK in recent months.

“Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK,” Colorado governor Jared Polis tweeted.

He attached an official statement from his office and state health officials that said the individual is a “male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history.”

The individual had no close contacts, the statement said, but the situation will continue to be monitored “very closely” and authorities are working to identify other potential cases through contact tracing.

The Washington Post reported that the Colorado case is the first known infection of the variant virus to be recorded in the United States.

The first two variant cases on the North American continent were discovered in Canada over the weekend.

Fears have been raised by the new strain of Covid-19, which experts say is potentially more transmissible.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week the new variant was 70% more transmissible as he announced strict lockdown measures for London and the south-east of England. 

More than 3,000 cases of the variant have already been reported in the UK and dozens of countries in Europe and around the world, according to the EU health agency ECDC.

Cases of the variant have been detected in Ireland. Yesterday saw the highest number of cases ever recorded in the North and the Republic with 1,546 confirmed cases here. Nine further deaths were also recorded.

In Northern Ireland, 1,566 cases and 14 deaths were reported.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said last Friday: “I can confirm that we have detected the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 by whole genome sequencing at the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD.”

Further testing in the coming days and weeks will establish the extent to which it is present here. In the meantime, it is vitally important that we each stay at home, avoid social contact and avoid all forms of non-essential travel.

Unites States situation

US President-elect Joe Biden warned that the situation with Covid-19 may not ease up until “well into March”.  

“The next few weeks and months are going to be very tough – a very tough period for our nation, maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic,” he said.

Hospitalisations are back at an all-time high in the US at more than 121,000 as of Monday.

In Los Angeles, ambulances waited all day to unload Covid patients, with more than 95% of hospitals forced to divert new cases away, and one reportedly treating patients in its gift shop and chapel.

Southern California extended a three-week old lockdown indefinitely Tuesday.

- With reporting by Orla Dwyer.

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