First known cases of U.K. COVID variant detected in Contra Costa

2 cases of U.K. COVID variant detected in Contra Costa
Lab testing photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contra Costa County is reporting its first two known cases of the highly infectious COVID variant believed to have originated in the United Kingdom — called B.1.117 variant.

The U.K. variant is “more contagious than others and possibly more deadly,” according to Contra Costa health officials, who add there are likely many more cases in the community that have not been detected. Initial studies suggest the three COVID vaccines available in the U.S. provide strong protection against the U.K. variant and others, officials said.

“This is a reminder that even though COVID numbers are falling, we need to continue using all our tools to prevent another surge: wear masks in public, continue to physically distance, avoid both indoor and large gatherings, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer.

Another COVID variant of concern, originating from South Africa, has not yet been detected in Contra Costa.

The U.K. variants were discovered as part of laboratory surveillance work during the pandemic.

“One local person infected with the U.K. variant began displaying common COVID-19 symptoms such as cough and muscles aches and was able to isolate at home,” officials said. “The other Contra Costa resident reported having multiple symptoms, including runny nose, cough, headache and loss of smell and taste.”

For Contra Costa data and COVID-19 health information, visit here.