Two cases of the coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom have been identified in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday. Connecticut joined five other states that have identified cases of the virus variant.
The two people are between 15 and 25 and reside in New Haven County. They both recently traveled outside Connecticut — one went to Ireland and the other went to New York, officials said.
Both were interviewed by contact tracers when they tested positive for the coronavirus and their close contacts were identified, Lamont said in a statement. They are being re-interviewed after they were found to have the variant.
One of the people completed self-isolation and the other remained in self-isolation at home Thursday, officials said.
“The U.K. variant is widely assumed to be more highly transmissible than other strains of the virus,” state Public Health Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford said. “However, our current vaccines should be effective against this strain, and we continue to urge everyone who is currently eligible to get the vaccine to do so.”
The variant emerged with many mutations that appear to allow it to spread more easily than other variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is not more deadly than the predominant strain of the coronavirus, according to the CDC. The variant was first detected in the U.K. in September and has become widespread in London and southeast England.
The CDC is working with public health agencies around the country to monitor the spread of the variant and its characteristics.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a lockdown in England Monday in response to the variant becoming widespread and hospitals being increasingly strained by the number of cases. The lockdown closes schools to most children and is the strictest since the spring lockdown.
The Connecticut public health laboratory started testing for the variant last week in partnership with Yale University and Jackson Laboratories.
“As a research institution with innovative scientists, we have been able to adapt quickly our testing procedures in response to emerging public health threats,” said Yale School of Medicine Dean Nancy Brown. “I am grateful that our clinical and research laboratories were able to collaborate to provide sequencing data for the Connecticut Department of Public Health to help detect the new SARS-CoV-2 variant.”
Lamont said last week it would only be a matter of time before the variant was detected in Connecticut.
“This another reason why everyone should continue taking precautions to prevent transmission of this disease, including wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing,” Lamont said in a statement. “The health of Connecticut residents remains our top priority, and our public health officials will continue to closely monitor these cases and any other developments with this contagious virus.”