By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)  announced last week that an Anchorage resident who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection last month was infected with a variant strain of the virus known as B.1.1.7, which was originally detected in September in the United Kingdom.


The person who tested positive in Anchorage had recently visited a state where the variant has already  been detected. After returning home, the person first experienced symptoms on Dec. 17, was swabbed  on Dec. 20, and received a result on Dec. 22. The individual isolated after being notified of the positive result, according to contact tracers. The individual lived with one other person who also became sick,  tested positive and was successfully isolated. Both individuals have since recovered.

This is the first identification in Alaska of the B.1.1.7 strain, or any of  the variant strains that are raising concerns among public health officials. 

“Viruses constantly change through mutation so it’s not unexpected to find variants of the virus,” said  State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin. “However, B.1.1.7 is one of several SARS-CoV-2 variants that  has been carefully tracked because it appears to spread more easily and quickly than other strains of  the virus.” 

As of Jan. 31, the CDC has reported more than 430 COVID-19 variant cases in at least 30 states.