California raises alarm after becoming second US state to report case of UK Covid strain

Coronavirus: Spread of COVID-19 variants discussed by expert

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that health officials in the state had found a case of the new variant that was discovered in the UK. Gov Newsom revealed the news on Wednesday during a virtual call with top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci.

He said: “Just an hour or so ago, we were informed that this new variant, this new strain that we’ve identified obviously from the United Kingdom, from other parts of the globe, identified in Colorado yesterday, has been identified here in the state of California, in Southern California.”

Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the findings were expected.

He said: “I don’t think that Californians should feel that this is something odd.

“This is something that’s expected.”

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On Tuesday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis became the first in the US to announce a new variant case had been detected.

He wrote in a tweet: “Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK.

“The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all Covid-19 indicators, very closely.

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new Covid-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious.

“We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels.”

The patient is a man in his 20s from Elbert County, Colorado, an hour and a half south of state capital Denver.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been alerted and the patient is currently in isolation.

More than 40 countries banned UK arrivals after the emergence of the new variant, but Middle East, Asia, Africa, Australia and Canada have already reported cases of the new strain.

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A day before the Colorado case was detected, Admiral Brett Giroir, US Assistant Secretary for Health, said the variant was “likely” already in the US.

He told Good Morning America: “We don’t have proof that it’s here, but we do suspect that it is likely here, given the global interconnectedness.”

Researchers at the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned coronavirus will likely become endemic, meaning it is ever present in the population to some extent.

As of Tuesday, 81.9million coronavirus infections have been registered worldwide, with 1.79million deaths.

The US is the worst hit nation, with more than 19.9million infections and more than 346,000 confirmed deaths.

In the UK, the total number of daily infections surpassed 50,000 for the first time, with 53,135 confirmed.

Leaked data obtained by the Health Service Journal show critical care units in the South East and East of England are operating at more than 100 percent capacity.

The figures show capacity in London intensive care units was at 114 percent on Monday, while capacity in the South East was at 113 percent.

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