By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Following the report out of South Carolina two days ago concerning the first two cases in the US associated with the SARS-CoV-2 variant that first emerged recently in South Africa, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced today a confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the new B.1.351 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a Maryland resident.

Maryland map/National Atlas of the United States

The case announced today involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region. The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely.

“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” said Governor Hogan. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”

The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other variants. The variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains.

Additional research is still required to determine the effectiveness of available vaccines against the B.1.351 variant. However, initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant. It is also expected that currently available diagnostic tests will detect the B.1.351 variant.

As of Friday, the CDC reported 434 cases of the UK virus variant B.1.1.7 in 30 states, now 3 cases of South African variant B.1.351 in two states and one Brazil P.1 variant in Minnesota.

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