The Rhode Island Department of Health announced Tuesday that they have identified the state’s first cases of the new UK B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant. Three cases were from one patient in their 60s, one patient in their 50s, and one patient in their 20s. Two patients from Newport County and one patient from Providence County.
B.1.1.7 is known to have spread to at least 82 countries and is thought to be transmitted between 35 and 45 percent more easily than other variants of coronavirus already found in the United States.
Evidence has emerged that suggests this coronavirus variant already known to spread faster is also likely to be more deadly.
These samples underwent sequencing as part of RIDOH’s COVID-19 genomic surveillance plan. These cases are still under investigation. The sequencing was performed by the Broad Institute, in collaboration with RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories. This sequencing work is supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
All Rhode Islanders are urged to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands regularly.