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New York sees first case of more contagious coronavirus strain

Someone with no known travel history has tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant.

Someone in New York has tested positive for the new variant of the coronavirus.
James Martin/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

The variant of the coronavirus discovered in the UK has spread to New York, the state's governor said Monday. The new strain of the virus causing COVID-19 is said to be more contagious, and also cropped up in Colorado and California last week.

The UK variant was found in Saratoga County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted, and in someone with no known recent travel history. 

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine will 'very likely' work on UK mutation, Fauci says, as California reports case

While the new strain appears to be more contagious, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week it doesn't appear to be resistant to the vaccines that have been developed. Fauci said, however, that public health officials are keeping a close eye on the mutation, called B.1.1.7.

"We're following this extremely carefully," he said. "We have isolates from the UK. We're working on it."

The coronavirus is mutating now because there are so many cases, Fauci explained. "RNA viruses, they make a living out of mutating, they love to mutate," he said. "It's replicating a lot, and when you replicate, you mutate."

The new strain was first detected in the UK in September and later caused the country to go into a strict lockdown over the holidays, with other countries, including the US, putting stronger entry requirements in place for travelers arriving from the UK. The variant has also appeared in other countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Spain and Japan.

There's no evidence the variant is any deadlier than previously known strains of the coronavirus or that it makes people sicker. But a study released last month by a team of UK scientists estimated that it's 56% more transmissible, The New York Times reported. The British government had earlier said the variant might be up to 70% more contagious.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.