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Colorado’s first case of the of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 first found in UK

The B.1.1.7 variant is thought to be more contagious, however, not currently presenting with more severe symptoms. 

An Elbert County, Colorado man in his 20s is the first case of COVID-19 identified as the B.1.1.7 variant. This variant was first discovered in the UK this month, with over 1,000 residents of the UK infected with it at this time. The first case is assumed to have been in September 2020.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was notified by the Colorado State Laboratory of the case and public health officials are overseeing the investigation, including contact tracing, as well as the eventual clearance of the man who is currently in isolation. 

The B.1.1.7 variant is thought to be more contagious, however, not currently presenting with more severe symptoms. 

Case Information

  • The individual is a male in his 20s
  • Has no travel history
  • Is currently in isolation
  • Has no known close contacts

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I want to thank our scientists and dedicated medical professionals for their swift work and ask Coloradans to continue our efforts to prevent disease transmission by wearing masks, standing six feet apart when gathering with others, and only interacting with members of their immediate household.”, Colorado's Governor Jared Polis said in a statement. 

Governor Polis gave a full briefing in a public address here, Wednesday, December 30th. 

Press Release from the Governor's Office explained:

The Colorado state lab was the first in the country to quickly identify the variant through sophisticated analysis of testing samples. The lab initially performed the diagnostic PCR test on the sample and found that the sample was positive for COVID-19 with strong signals for the N gene and ORF1ab (both are detected when a person has COVID-19), but the signal for the S gene was not detected. When the S gene doesn’t register in the testing, it is called an “S Drop Out Profile,” and it is considered an essential signature for the variant. The sample was flagged for further investigation. Scientists then sequenced the viral genome from the patient sample and found eight mutations specific to the spike protein gene associated with this variant. Genome sequencing is a molecular profiling of the entire viral RNA sequence.

“The fact that Colorado has detected this virant first in the nation is a testament to the sophistication of Colorado's response and the talent of CDPHE's scientist and lab operations,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this variant.”

 

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