PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The Pender County Health Department has confirmed that two residents have tested positive for a new strain of COVID-19, the B.1.1.7 variant which is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom. Both patients recovered from the virus last week, but the health department was just made aware Wednesday that the strain of the virus they contracted was unique.
“[Neither of the patients] has traveled outside the US. They have recuperated. They recovered last week. Both individuals did fine. It’s my understanding that this strain is across the US and in North Carolina, but there is very little information about how potent this strain is. The CDC just doesn’t have enough research on it yet,” Pender County Health Director Carolyn Moser told WECT.
Moser said the patients, who were not in any high-risk categories, do not know where they contracted the virus. In addition to not traveling to any foreign countries, Moser is not aware of any domestic travel they had participated in recently, either.
“I think that’s what baffles everybody,” Moser said, of trying to determine how this variant form of the virus came into the county.
Moser said she was not sure where these patients were tested for COVID-19, or what about their test results seemed significant enough to medical workers that their labs were sent on to the state for further analysis. To her knowledge, the state is not analyzing lab samples for all patients who test positive. But because these samples were identified as B117, authorities asked the Pender County Health Department to find out more about the patients.
“We did have to investigate and ask a few extra questions that the state and the CDC had requested, but otherwise, there’s really no other steps to take. It still boils down to following the 3 W’s and not getting COVID to begin with,” Moser said.
She added that extreme fatigue was their only noteworthy symptom. She declined to disclose the patients’ ages or genders.
Moser said the state knew other strains were coming, but this is the first time Pender County has seen a case of the B.1.1.7 variant. On January 23, the state reported it’s first known case of the variant in an adult in Mecklenburg County. 195 cases of B.1.1.7 had been reported in 21 states as of that time. Early data suggest that this variant may be more contagious than other variants. Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against it.