A San Diego man with no travel outside the county has tested positive for the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
The man was tested on Dec. 29 after two days of symptoms, and results showed a characteristic pattern that indicated it could be the new UK strain. The specimen was immediately sent to Scripps Research and whole genome sequencing determined Dec. 30 that it is the UK variant, also known as B.1.1.7.
The patient is not hospitalized and is currently isolated. The County’s case investigation has identified household contacts who are being quarantined and tested for the novel coronavirus. The man had little interaction with people outside his household while potentially contagious.
“The B.1.1.7 strain is here, and San Diegans can protect themselves against it by doing the same things they have been asked to do since the pandemic began,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the County Epidemiology and Immunizations Services branch. “Everyone should stay home and avoid any gatherings over the New Year’s holiday. The best way to celebrate is to be sure that everyone stays healthy in 2021.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the UK strain is one of multiple COVID-19 variants that have been identified around the world.
There is some evidence that the new strains are more easily spread, but these variants are not believed to cause more severe illness or increase the risk of death.
At this time, it is also believed that the vaccines currently available will offer protection against newly emerging variants. Scientists continue to study the new strains of the novel coronavirus to determine their potential impact.
Since the new strain has a higher rate of transmission, it could lead to an increase in cases in the region. With New Year’s Eve tomorrow, County health officials say San Diegans to do the following now more than ever:
- Wash your hands
- Wear a mask
- Keep your distance from others and leave your household only for essential activities
- If you’re sick, get tested, and then stay home and isolate yourself