By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported Friday on the first case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant (the “U.K. variant”) in a resident of Hillsborough County.

The person infected with the variant virus had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 after international travel.

National Atlas of the United States

While this person did not travel, this detection of the variant virus is associated with international travel for this reason. Contact tracing has identified close household contacts, but no other community exposures have been identified. Public health isolation, quarantine and testing guidance was followed, including testing of all close household contacts to identify asymptomatic infection. As a result, there is not believed to be risk to the community from this case.

“The presence of a COVID-19 variant in New Hampshire is not surprising, and we will likely see increasing numbers of infections from the B.1.1.7 variant,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “The CDC has estimated that the variant will likely become the predominant circulating variant in the U.S. in the near future. The best way to avoid exposure to this highly contagious variant is to wear a mask, social distance and frequent hand washing. We continue to recommend that any person with new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 be tested for COVID-19.”

The B.1.1.7 variant was identified because DHHS has increased monitoring in collected specimens for COVID-19 variants due to their increasing presence worldwide. To date, the B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in about 86 countries and in more than 37 states, with more than 980 cases in the United States. According to studies from the UK, the B.1.1.7 variant has been shown to be greater than 50% more infectious and transmissible. However, the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 from this variant.