Massachusetts DPH checks COVID-19 tests for variant cases

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(WWLP) – The new variant of COVID found in the United Kingdom has now been found close to home and national health authorities are urging caution.

Experts say that it’s not surprising that new variants have emerged in the U.S, including the first case in Massachusetts.

A Boston woman in her 20s tested positive for the more contagious variant after returning home from the U.K. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health checks positive tests for this specific strain.

Researchers call the new strain from the U.K. B.1.1.7. The variant is between 50% and 74% more transmissible than the standard coronavirus strain and health experts believe the new strain may dominate U.S. coronavirus cases by March.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe symptoms or an increased risk of death. However, because it is so contagious, it could cause major problems.

Mercy Medical Center will begin a vaccine clinic next Monday for those who fall into the state’s Phase 1 distribution list.

“It does not mean that anyone can receive the vaccine today or receive the vaccine for a walk in. The vaccine clinic which will be open to the community is only for people that fall into the eligible groups and is by appointment only,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roose of Mercy Medical Center.

Dr. Robert Roose of Mercy Medical Center said that they do not take phone calls regarding vaccine appointments. That is something you need to do online.

To date, the CDC has reported 88 cases of the variant from 14 states in the United States.

There are other variants in Brazil and South Africa that health officials have begun to track as well.

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