RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today reported the first identification of the South African COVID-19 variant B.1.351 in a North Carolina resident.
The person infected with the new variant is an adult from the central part of North Carolina who has not traveled recently.
North Carolina is the fourth state to report an identified case of B.1.351. Nine cases have been identified in South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia.
Although first identified in the United States in January, the B.1.351 variant was first detected in South Africa in October.
Data suggest this variant may be more contagious than other variants but does not suggest that it causes more severe disease.
Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against this and other new variants.
”While we anticipated the arrival of the B.1.351 variant in NC, it’s a reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is not over. The emergence of variants that are more infectious means it’s more important than ever to do what we know works to slow the spread — wear a mask, wash your hands, wait 6 feet apart, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.
The NCDHHS has Updated its recommendations for mask wearing based on guidelines from the CDC:
- Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face and covers your nose and mouth. To help with a snug fit, you can use a mask with a metal strip along the top of the mask.
- Use two or more layers for your face covering. You can do this by wearing a cloth face covering with two or more layers or by wearing one disposable mask (sometimes referred to as a surgical mask or a medical procedure mask) underneath a cloth mask.
- Do not wear two disposable masks.
- Make sure you can see and breathe easily.
As of Feb. 10, North Carolina has administered more than 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccinations will be available to teachers and child care workers in Group 3 beginning February 24 and for additional front-line essential workers from March 10.
Group 4 will include adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness, and Group 5 will include everyone.
Click here for information about vaccine groups.