South African COVID-19 Variant Identified in Maryland, Governor Says

Maryland health officials have confirmed the state's first case of COVID-19 caused by the new variant first identified in South Africa, Governor Larry Hogan announced Saturday.

The new case was identified in an adult living in the Baltimore metro region with no international travel history, "making community transmission likely," officials say. Contact tracing is underway.

The new variant’s presence in the state was confirmed by the Maryland Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The South African variant – also known as the B.1.351 variant – has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other strains, officials say. However, the variant is thought to be more transmissible than other variants.

Evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to protect against the B.1.351 variant.

“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” said Governor Hogan. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant.”

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