New Jersey health officials confirm first 2 cases of UK variant of COVID-19
New Jersey's top health official says the state has identified its first two cases of the COVID-19 variant stemming from the United Kingdom.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says one case involves a man in his 60s from Ocean County whose symptoms have since resolved. She added that he had no history of travel.
The second case involved a child who stayed in northern New Jersey and had a history of traveling. The child tested positive in New York earlier this month. State officials are working with their New York counterparts on tracing contacts.
This makes at least 22 states with reported cases of the new strain. Some health officials say that the strain is said to be more contagious, but doesn’t have more severe symptoms. California, Florida and New York have the most cases of the new strain.
There are also promising findings when it comes to both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
“Although this new strain seems to be catchier than the old one, the vaccine seems to work just fine. People shouldn’t panic,” says Dr. Mike Cascarina.
Cascarina runs a family practice in Brick where he's been diagnosing about six cases of COVID per day. He says that he is starting to get more questions from patients about the UK variant.
In New Jersey, both patients with the new strain have recovered from their symptoms. Going forward, the CDC and New Jersey health officials say that they will be ramping up the sequencing of genomes in more positive cases to identify the strain.
“You actually have to do a sequencing of the amino acids of the virus itself. That's how you determine if it's a variant strain,” says epidemiologist Dr. Eddy Bresnitz.
Bresnitz says that the best way to protect oneself from the variant is to get the vaccine, wear a mask and stay socially distant from others.
“So, we have to keep doing the same thing and people have to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of this variant,” he says.
Health experts say it possible that the UK variant could become the dominant strain, but that this could be avoided with increased vaccination.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.