AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced that a case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 has been detected in Maine on February 10, 2021. This is the first case in Maine of this variant, which was initially discovered in the United Kingdom and has now been detected in 34 other states.
A Maine resident developed symptoms in early February and tested positive for COVID-19. A sample was sent to an independent laboratory as part of Maine CDC’s process to identify potential COVID-19 variants. The Maine CDC was notified of the results this morning.
The individual is a resident of Franklin County with a history of recent international travel. The individual and other household members who tested positive for COVID-19 are isolating. Maine CDCs case investigation is ongoing, and close contacts are being identified and will be required to quarantine.
As of Tuesday, the U.S. CDC had reported 932 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from 34 states in the United States. Maine CDC is in communication with the U.S. CDC about this case as it continues to track COVID-19 variants across states.
“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.
Testing for the B.1.1.7 variant and other variants has been ongoing in Maine in collaboration with clinical diagnostic laboratories, including The Jackson Laboratory and the U.S. CDC. Testing consists of conducting genomic sequencing on a portion of COVID-19 positive test samples in Maine.
Public health experts expect that existing COVID-19 diagnostic tests will continue to detect variants of the virus. Scientific evidence suggests that currently available vaccines are effective against the B.1.1.7 variant. Given the increased transmissibility of this variant and the number of states and other countries that have found cases, more cases may be identified in Maine
At this time, the measures to protect public health remain the same. Maine people must continue to:
- Wear masks when out in public
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Avoid gatherings
- Stay home when sick
- Wash hands frequently, and
- Get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or are identified as a close contact.
Information on COVID-19 testing in Maine is available on the Keep Maine Healthy website.