2 Cases of UK Variant of COVID-19 Reported in Maryland

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The Maryland Public Health Laboratory confirmed the state's first two reported cases of the highly contagious U.K. variant of the coronavirus, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday afternoon.

The patients live in Anne Arundel County. One recently returned from travel abroad, and the other is that patient’s spouse, Hogan said. Both are under age 65, and neither has been hospitalized.

A private lab conducted the test.

“They found some strange sequences that they didn’t understand, that they didn’t know what to do with,” Hogan said. “They sent it to the Maryland Public Health Lab, who reviewed it and confirmed it was the U.K. variant. The Maryland Public Health Lab then also ran it by CDC, who double confirmed it was the U.K. variant.”

The timing is unclear at this point as to when or where the travel occurred, when the tests occurred or when the variant was identified, Hogan said.

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

Contact tracing is underway, and there is no evidence of additional transmission of the strain, according to the governor’s office.

The infected couple is in isolation, Hogan said. Their two children are quarantining as well.

The U.K. variant, one of several coronavirus mutations, was reported to the World Health Organization in December. Early analysis suggested it may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant that was circulating in the country, but it has not shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death, according to the governor’s office.

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