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New UK variant of COVID-19 found in Tompkins County case

The Tompkins County Health Department says they have now found a positive case of the “UK variant” of COVID-19.

The case was sequenced through Cornell University’s COVID-19 testing lab as part of that lab’s testing services for Cayuga Health System and the region. Test results are sequenced for this strain when an individual indicates that they are a close contact of another individual with the variant or indicates relevant travel from the United Kingdom. The regional New York State Department of Health office and New York State Wadsworth Public Health Laboratory have been notified of the result.

The contact investigation has been completed and no close contacts were identified. The individual entered quarantine immediately upon returning from travel and was placed in isolation following the positive test result.

The “UK variant” is a more contagious variant of COVID-19. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published more information on the COVID-19 variants here. The first reported case of this strain was identified by New York State on January 4, 2021. There is currently no evidence that this strain is more dangerous to the individual.

“While this variant is more contagious, we are confident that we detected the positive case immediately and the individual did not have any close contacts. We all still have a part in stopping the spread, and must continue to wear masks, avoid crowds, and keep distance from one another,” Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said.