The variant strain of COVID-19 referred to as the "U.K. variant" has now been identified in both New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, although no cases are known to exist on the Seacoast.

The B.1.1.7 variant was detected in New Hampshire for the first time on Friday, following cases that had been identified in Massachusetts and Maine, respectively.

The New Hampshire resident who tested positive for the variant is a Hillsborough County resident who had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 following international travel, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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The infected individual did not travel, according to press release, which added that public health isolation, quarantine and testing guidance was followed, including testing of all close household contacts to identify asymptomatic infection. As a result, the state believes there is no risk to the community from this case.

“The presence of a COVID-19 variant in New Hampshire is not surprising, and we will likely see increasing numbers of infections from the B.1.1.7 variant,” Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist, said in the release. “The CDC has estimated that the variant will likely become the predominant circulating variant in the U.S. in the near future.

"The best way to avoid exposure to this highly contagious variant is to wear a mask, social distance and frequent hand washing. We continue to recommend that any person with new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 be tested for COVID-19.”

According to studies from the United Kingdom cited in the release, the B.1.1.7 variant has been shown to be greater than 50 percent more infectious and transmissible. However, the release stated that COVID-19 vaccines appear to be effective at preventing COVID-19 from the B.1.1.7 variant.

At the time of publication, there was also one identified case of the variant in Franklin County, Maine. Several cases of the variant exist in Massachusetts, but none are known to be present on the Seacoast.

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