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First COVID-19 variant detected in Maine

Feb 10, 2021

Augusta —

The first documented case of a COVID-19 variant in Maine was detected Wednesday, Feb. 10, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The B.1.1.7 variant was initially discovered in the United Kingdom and has now been detected in 34 other states.

A Franklin County resident developed symptoms in early February and tested positive for COVID-19. A sample was sent to an independent laboratory as part of Maine CDC’s process to identify potential COVID-19 variants. The Maine CDC was notified of the results this morning.

According to a Maine CDC press release, the person has a history of recent international travel, and other household members who tested positive for COVID-19 are isolating. Maine CDC’s case investigation is ongoing, and close contacts are being identified and will be required to quarantine.

As of Tuesday, the U.S. CDC had reported 932 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from 34 states in the United States. Maine CDC is in communication with the U.S. CDC about this case as it continues to track COVID-19 variants across states.

“We recognize the concern this case may cause, given that the B.1.1.7 variant appears to spread more easily,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine CDC. “Given the number of cases already detected in other states, we expected the variant to arrive in Maine and have been on the lookout for it.

"It is more important than ever that Maine people remain vigilant in taking the steps that prevent the spread of COVID-19 — wearing face coverings, staying at least 6 feet apart, avoiding gatherings and washing hands frequently.”

Public health experts expect that existing COVID-19 diagnostic tests will continue to detect variants of the virus. Scientific evidence suggests that currently available vaccines are effective against the B.1.1.7 variant.

Given the increased transmissibility of this variant and the number of states and other countries that have found cases, more cases may be identified in Maine

For now, measures to protect public health remain the same. These include wearing face masks when out in public; staying at least 6 feet away from others; avoiding gatherings; staying home when sick; washing hands frequently; and getting tested if symptoms of COVID-19 occur or if identified as a close contact.

Information on COVID-19 testing in Maine is available on the Keep Maine Healthy. Visit maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing.

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