North Carolina Reports 1st Case Of South African COVID Variant

RALEIGH, N.C. — Health officials say on Thursday a North Carolina resident tested positive for the coronavirus variant, B.1.351 strain, first detected in South Africa back in October.

An adult in North Carolina from the central part of the state, who had not traveled recently, contracted the B.1.351 strain of coronavirus, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

Health officials say this individual will remain anonymous to protect their privacy, and “the specimen was tested by LabCorp and selected for sequencing as part of a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

North Carolina is the fourth state to report a case with this variant of the virus, since its arrival to the United States in January, according to a news release.

Officials say as of February 9th nine cases of this South African COVID variant have been reported in South Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia.

NCDHHS officials say data shows although this new strain of the virus may be more contagious, there is no evidence it will cause more severe disease, and therefore the current vaccine will prove effective against all forms of this virus.

Health officials warn residents viruses change all the time, and the NCDHHS expects to see new COVID-19 variants in the future.

“While we anticipated the arrival of the B.1.351 variant in NC, it’s a reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is not over. The emergence of variants that are more infectious means it’s more important than ever to do what we know works to slow the spread — wear a mask, wash your hands, wait 6 feet apart, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

NCDHHS officials provide these additional recommendations on how to improve mask wearing based on guidance from the CDC:

  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face and covers your nose and mouth. To help with a snug fit, you can use a mask with a metal strip along the top of the mask.
  • Use two or more layers for your face covering. You can do this by wearing a cloth face covering with two or more layers or by wearing one disposable mask (sometimes referred to as a surgical mask or a medical procedure mask) underneath a cloth mask.
  • Do not wear two disposable masks.
  • Make sure you can see and breathe easily.

Officials say as of February 10th North Carolina has administered more than 1.4 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, but vaccine supply remains limited.

Health officials ask residents to remain patient and follow recommended health safety guidelines until everyone has the opportunity to get their vaccine.