ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Governor Larry Hogan announced on Saturday that the South African variant of the Covid-19 virus has been detected in the State of Maryland.

The new B.1.351 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 was found in a Maryland resident and has been confirmed by the Maryland Department of Health in consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or an increased risk of death when compared to the other strains, however it is believed to be more transmissible than other strains.

Officials say additional research is still required to determine the effectiveness of the available vaccines against the South African variant but initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” said Governor Hogan. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”

Today’s case involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region who has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely. The individual is currently isolating at home, health officials said.

Contract tracing efforts are being taken to ensure anyone who was in contact with this person is quickly identified, quarantined and tested.

The South African virus is the second variant identified in the state along with the U.K. variant that was identified on January 12th.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff