Covid-19 variant discovered in California, governor says


The announcement on Wednesday follows the first confirmed US case of the B117 variant in Colorado on Tuesday.

Governor Newsom revealed the latest discovery during a virtual conversation with Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but did not specify how many patients are impacted or where the case or cases were discovered. The variant was discovered in southern California, the  governor added.

The variant – a common development in viral history as a virus replicates through transmission – is more contagious but is not believed to be more lethal or resistant to current Covid-19 vaccine efforts.

“I don’t think that Californians should feel this is something odd,” Dr Fauci said. “This is something that’s expected.”

Health officials in Colorado on Wednesday announced that the first confirmed US case of the variant was detected in a National Guard service member deployed to a nursing home with an ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Another National Guard service member who was also serving the care centre may also be infected with the variant.

Neither service members have travelled outside of the US within recent weeks, suggesting there is already viral transmission within the US, underscoring the urgency for rapid vaccine distribution.

California officials have implemented stay-at-home orders across more than half the state as hospitals become increasingly strained by the public health crisis.

Hospitalisations in Los Angeles surpassed 7,000 for the first time during the pandemic on Tuesday. More than 21,000 people in the state are currently hospitalised. The county’s infection positivity rate has topped 16 per cent; the statewide average is roughly 12 per cent.

More than 2.1 million infections have been confirmed in state since the onset of the pandemic. Nearly 25,000 people have died, as of Wednesday.

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