The new, more infectious coronavirus strain has been found in Georgia, according to the state’s Public Health Department.
The case was confirmed in an 18-year-old man with no history of recent travel, meaning that more cases likely exist across the state, officials said.
“The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians,” DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said in a statement Monday. “Even as we begin roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must not let down our guard and ignore basic prevention measures – wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently.”
The variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom and has contributed to the country’s spike in cases. After imposing a lockdown over the holidays, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the country was reentering a six-week lockdown in an effort to curb the virus’s spread.
Scientists believe that the new variant is up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain that has since spread across the globe, but are confident that it is no more deadly than its counterpart and that it is not resistant to the recently-approved coronavirus vaccines. (RELATED: Here’s Everything We Know About The New Coronavirus Strain)