Maryland confirms case of Covid-19 variant from South Africa

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A potentially more transmissible variant of Covid-19 first identified in South Africa has now been confirmed to be in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday.

The case involves an adult residing in the “Baltimore metro region” who hadn’t left the country, indicating that there is “likely” community transmission of the variant, a release from Hogan’s office said. Contact tracing is now ongoing, according to the release.

The news comes after South Carolina announced the first two U.S. cases of the variant Thursday.

Vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have all said their vaccines have been less effective against the strain. Variants of more transmissible strains of the virus from the U.K. and Brazil have also reached the United States, upping pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to roll out vaccinations quicker.

“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” Hogan said in the release. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”

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