The Health and Human Services Agency has announced that 24 cases of the new, more contagious strain of Covid-19 have been confirmed in San Diego county last week, with 4 probable cases also being identified.
Originally emerging in the United Kingdom, the new cases of the Covid-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7, are confirmed by whole genome sequencing, while the 4 probable cases are directly linked to the confirmed cases and have positive diagnostic nucleic acid test, but have yet to be sequenced.
San Diego-based laboratory Helix and its partner Illumina confirmed two dozen of the new variant cases, under a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveillance project, on January 4 from specimens collected from December 27-31.The patients of the newly confirmed strain are believed to have no travel history, with an investigation and contract tracing ongoing.
“The fact that these cases have been identified in multiple parts of the region shows that this strain of the virus could be rapidly spreading,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H. County public health officer, according to County News Center. “People should be extra cautions to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19, especially this variant, which research has shown is more contagious.”
Cases have been identified in San Diego, La Mesa, Lakeside and Chula Vista, and are being found among multiple age groups, with 4 cases found in patients under 10 and the oldest over 70. The average age of the variant cases is 36, in line with the overall average for all confirmed cases in the county to date.
“We are doing everything we can to determine how fast this new strain is spreading, especially since the region’s daily case count has dramatically increased in recent weeks,” Wooten said.
Scientists are continuing to study the new strain in determining its potential impact, but it is currently believed that the vaccines currently available will offer protection against the variant.
For more information about COVID-19, testing locations and vaccine distribution, visit www.coronavirus-sd.com.