A technician works at a state health laboratory in Exton in this undated file photo. (Source: PA Dept. of Health)
A technician works at a state health laboratory in Exton in this undated file photo. (Source: PA Dept. of Health)

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced this morning that the first case of the Covid-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7, has been confirmed in Pennsylvania.

The confirmed case is in Dauphin County and is the same variant that was first discovered in England in December, according to the CDC.

"The individual tested positive after known international exposure," the Department of Health said in a statement. Contact tracers identified and inform those who were within close contact with this person.

When diagnosed, the individual had mild symptoms, which have since cleared up.

“Pennsylvania has been preparing for this variant by working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been sending 10-35 random samples biweekly to the CDC since November to study sequencing and detect any potential cases for this new Covid-19 variant,” Levine said in a statement. “Public health experts are in the early stages of working to better understand this new variant, how it spreads and how it affects people who are infected with it.

“There is still much to learn about this new variant, so we need to remain vigilant and continue to urge Pennsylvanians to stop the spread,” Levine said.

Virus mutation is common with all viruses, including Covid-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2. The CDC said that while the variant has the potential to transmit faster than the original strain, it is not necessarily more infectious.

Public health experts said they expect existing Covid-19 tests and vaccines to be effective against the new variant.

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