HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Two cases of the new COVID-19 variant have been found in Connecticut.
Gov. Ned Lamont confirmed the cases on Thursday afternoon.
"The patients are two individuals between 15 and 25 who both reside in New Haven County," Lamont said. "Both individuals traveled outside Connecticut – one to Ireland and the other to New York State – and developed symptoms within three to four days of their return."
Genetic sequencing of the virus confirmed that the two cases are unrelated, the governor said.
They were discovered as part of a State Laboratory enhanced surveillance testing strategy that started last week in collaboration with Yale and Jackson lab. The genomic sequencing of these specific samples was conducted by Yale. The state has notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Both persons were interviewed by contact tracers soon after they were diagnosed, and their close contacts were identified at that time," Lamont said. "They are in the process of being re-interviewed by pubic health officials in light of the identification of the UK variant."
One individual completed their isolation period, and the other is self-isolating at their home and will remain there until they are 10 days past the onset of symptoms and they are symptom free.
"As we said last week, given the speed of this new strand of the virus and its identification in several states throughout the country, we presumed it was already in our state and this info this morning confirms that fact." Lamont said. "This is another reason why everyone should continue taking precautions to prevent transmission of this disease, including wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, and avoiding gatherings with people outside your household."
Lamont said the health of Connecticut residents remains our top priority, and our public health officials will continue to closely monitor these cases and any other developments with this contagious virus.
BioNTech has said it is confident its vaccine will work on the new variant.
"The vaccine should still remain effective because it's designed against the entire protein, not just a small part of it," said Dr. Tara Alpert, Yale New Haven Healthcare.
While scientists say this variant is more contagious and has the potential to infect more people, public health officials say the current vaccine can still work on the new variant.
They also say our current health measures can sufficiently fight it.
“The same precaution and measures that protect you from every other variant from SARS v2 will protect you from this strain as well so social distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding public spaces,” said Dr. Tara Alpert, of the Yale School of Public Health.
There is a third COVID variant that was recently identified in South Africa.
Scientists are still researching the mutations of that strain.
Stay with Channel 3 for continuing coverage of the Coronavirus in Connecticut.