Governor Ned Lamont today announced that Connecticut public health officials have confirmed that the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, commonly known as the UK variant, has been detected in four additional individuals in the state who recently tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed cases of the UK variant in Connecticut to eight. The eight individuals, who live in New Haven (2), Oxford (3), and West Haven (3), range in age from 15 to 50.
Several individuals were tested through Griffin Hospital’s testing program between January 6 and January 18, 2021. Subsequent genomic sequencing by Griffin’s laboratory partner, The Jackson Laboratory of Farmington, confirmed the presence of the UK variant.
The four individuals who have been newly identified to have the UK variant live in New Haven and Oxford, though only two live in the same household. Aside from those two, there does not appear to be a link between these individuals, nor does there appear to be a link with the other four previously identified cases. One individual remains in isolation and the others have completed their isolation periods. The Connecticut Department of Public Health has confirmed that one individual recently traveled to the United Arab Emirates and had contact with a person who tested positive there. Travel histories on the other individuals are unknown at this time.
“This new strain, which is considered to be more easily transmitted, is spreading quickly throughout the world, and it’s highly likely that these are not the only eight cases in Connecticut. That is why it is so important that everyone continues taking precautions to prevent transmission of this disease,” Governor Lamont said. “The health of Connecticut residents remains our top priority, and our public health officials will continue to closely monitor these cases and any other developments with this contagious virus.”
“The increasing presence of this new strain in Connecticut and reports of other new COVID strains circulating in the United States and other parts of the world should serve as a stark reminder that it is imperative that we continue to wear masks, social distance, practice good hand hygiene, and limit gatherings to the members of your immediate household,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. “It is also crucial that anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 get tested and self-quarantine while awaiting the results.”
The UK variant is widely assumed to be associated with increased transmission and is associated with a steep rise in COVID-19 cases in the UK. It is not, however, assumed to be more deadly nor is it expected that it will have a significant impact on vaccine effectiveness. Personal protective measures, such as mask wearing and distancing in public, will still limit the spread of the variant.