Second instance of highly contagious B117 variant of COVID-19 detected in New Mexico
SANTA FE – A second instance of the highly contagious variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been detected in New Mexico, the state health department confirmed Monday.
The first instance of the B117 variant, announced Wednesday, was detected in a male in his 60s who had recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant was first identified in September. The second instance was detected in a close household contact, a female in her 30s.
Both patients are reportedly experiencing mild illness and have not had to be hospitalized. No close contacts outside of the household have been identified, the state reports.
The Albuquerque Journal reported the man first infected was from Bernalillo County.
The variant is thought to be a highly contagious form of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease, but is not associated with more severe illness. It is also not believed to reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines.
The variant's presence has been located in at least 30 countries and 10 American states.
"The increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant warrants universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Jan. 15. "Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public.
While most cases of COVID-19 recover with mild to moderate symptoms of disease, nearly 400,000 Americans have died as of Sunday, per data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
In New Mexico, 163,637 positive cases have been identified out of 2.15 million tests since March 11. Of these, 86,110 (52 percent) have been designated as recovered and 2,932 (1.8 percent) have died.
The state health department encourages all New Mexicans to register for vaccine at vaccinenm.org or call 855-600-3453.