First case of COVID-19 variant confirmed in Massachusetts


BOSTON, Mass. (WLNE) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on Sunday the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant.

The variant is the same one originally detected in the United Kingdom. The Department of Public Health said the individual developed symptoms in early January and tested positive for COVID-19.

A genetic sample was sent to an out-of-state laboratory as part of the CDC’s surveillance process to detect COVID-19 variants. The State Public Health Laboratory was made aware of the results on Saturday evening.

The individual with the variant is a woman in her 20’s, who lives in Boston.  The Department of Public Health said she had traveled to the United Kingdom and started feeling sick one day after she returned to the states.

The woman had tested negative before leaving the U.K.  She was interviewed by contact tracers after first testing positive, and her close contacts were identified.

Officials said she is now being re-interviewed after the variant was confirmed.

“Surveillance testing for the B.1.1.7 variant has been ongoing at the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory in collaboration with clinical diagnostic laboratories and academic partners. Surveillance consists of genomic sequencing on portions of COVID-19 positive specimens,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health.

The CDC has reported 88 cases from 14 different states in the country.

“Given the increased transmissibility of this variant and the number of states and other countries that have found infected cases, the Department expected the variant to arrive in Massachusetts eventually,” the Department of Public Health stated.

The spokesperson continued, “The public health risk reduction measures remain the same. Individuals must continue to wear masks or face coverings while out in public, maintain 6-foot social distancing, stay home when you are sick, and get tested if you have symptoms or are identified as a close contact.”

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