REGION — The first detected case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in Maine has been confirmed in a Franklin County resident who contracted the coronavirus in early February, according to a Maine government press release on Wed., Feb. 10.

“The individual is a resident of Franklin County with a history of recent international travel,” the press release read. “The individual and other household members who tested positive for COVID-19 are isolating. Maine CDCs (Center for Disease Control) case investigation is ongoing, and close contacts are being identified and will be required to quarantine.”

An independent laboratory tested the individual’s positive coronavirus sample and informed the Maine CDC of the variant Wednesday morning.

The variant B.1.1.7 was first detected in the United Kingdom and is now present in 34 states. Florida and California are currently reporting the highest numbers of the variant with more than 150 cases.

“We recognize the concern this case may cause, given that the B.1.1.7 variant appears to spread more easily,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “Given the number of cases already detected in other states, we expected the variant to arrive in Maine and have been on the lookout for it. It is more important than ever that Maine people remain vigilant in taking the steps that prevent the spread of COVID-19 – wearing face coverings, staying at least 6 feet apart, avoiding gatherings, and washing hands frequently.”

According to the Maine CDC, Franklin County ranks ninth out of the state’s 16 counties for positive COVID-19 cases since March 2020 with 702 confirmed cases. As of Mon., Feb.  8, the CDC reported 60 coronavirus cases in Franklin County over a seven-day timespan.


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