Hogan: UK Variant of COVID-19 Found in 2 Maryland Residents

    Two Anne Arundel County residents are the first people in Maryland to be confirmed as having the U.K. variant of COVID-19, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) said Tuesday.

    One of the residents recently returned from travel abroad; the other patient is the spouse of the recently returned traveler, Hogan said. Both patients are younger than 65 years old, and Hogan said they live together. Neither of them have been hospitalized.

    “They are currently in isolation. They’re conducting contact tracing to quickly determine who they may have interacted with since their arrival back here in Maryland,” Hogan said.

    He added that he just received the news from health officials ahead of the scheduled news conference on redistricting Tuesday afternoon.

    The U.K. variant of COVID-19 “seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it’s not linked so far to more severe illness or increased risk of death. The first reported U.S. case of the variant was in Colorado last month.

    Officials have said that currently available COVID-19 vaccines should still be effective on the variant.

    Ahead of his scheduled news conference, Hogan said a private lab had first found “strange sequences” in testing, and sent it to the state’s public health lab. The state lab then confirmed it was the U.K. variant, known as the B-117 strain, and so did the CDC.

    “Our state health officials are closely monitoring the emergence of the B-117 strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” Hogan said in a statement later Tuesday. “We encourage Marylanders to practice caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this strain.”

    Hogan’s office added that “there is currently no evidence of additional transmission of the strain” after extensive contact tracing of the couple.

    As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Teta Alim. Click here for the WTOP News website.