Health

Maryland confirms case of South African Covid variant that’s more infectious

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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will hold a press conference on November 17th in Annapolis, MD to discuss COVID-19 concerns.

Bill O’Leary | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Maryland has reported a case of the new, highly transmittable variant of Covid-19, which was first found in South Africa. This is the third case discovered in the United States, Governor Larry Hogan announced on Saturday.

The case involves an adult resident who lives in the Baltimore area and has not taken any international travel in the past. Maryland health officials and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed this.

“We strongly encourage Marylanders to exercise particular caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant,” said Hogan. “Please continue to practice normal health and safety precautions, including wearing masks, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”

The first two U.S. cases of the South African variant, known as B.1.351, were identified in South Carolina on January 28. Other variants found in the US come from the UK and Brazil.

The variants do not appear to cause more serious illness or an increased risk of death, but are considered highly contagious. Health officials are particularly concerned about variant B.1.351 as preliminary research suggests that vaccines may be less effective at controlling it.

President Joe Biden signed a travel ban last week on most non-US citizens who recently entered South Africa and re-introduced travel restrictions on non-US citizens from the UK and Brazil.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the virus has infected more than 25.9 million people and killed at least 436,000 people in the United States since the pandemic began.

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Robert Dunfee