MARYLAND — Today, Governor Larry Hogan announced that a case of COVID-19 caused by the new B.1.351 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was found in a Maryland resident.
The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death but is more transmissible than other strains. Officials believe existing vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant. It is also expected that the variant can be detected with existing tests.
“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” said Governor Hogan. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”
The case was found in an unnamed Baltimore adult with no recent international travel. Contact tracing is underway. The B.1.351 variant was first found in South Africa and on January 28 in two cases in South Carolina.
The B.1.351 variant is the second variant of coronavirus identified in Maryland. The first variant identified in Maryland was B.1.1.7—commonly known as “the UK variant”—which MDH announced that it identified on January 12. Seven total cases of B.1.1.7 have been identified in Maryland since that time. The CDC tracks case counts of different virus strains identified in the United States on its website [lnks.gd].