New Mexico health officials have identified the state’s first case of the more contagious novel coronavirus variant — a man in his 60s who is “associated with travel” to the United Kingdom in December.
The unidentified man, who lives in Bernalillo County, is recovering from a “very mild illness” and didn’t require hospitalization, the state Department of Health said Wednesday in a news release.
“To this point, [the Department of Health] has identified no close contacts within the state,” according to the news release, which didn’t provide any other details about the man’s travel.
The new variant, called B.1.1.7, was detected in the U.K. in September and has since spread to multiple countries, including the United States. The first case in the nation was detected in Colorado.
The new variant, which triggered a surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.K., has emerged with an “unusually large number of mutations,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death,” according to the CDC.
The state Department of Health issued a similar message.
“There is no evidence that the variant has an impact on the severity of COVID-19 cases, nor on current vaccine effectiveness,” a news release states.
Matt Bieber, a department spokesman, urged New Mexicans to continue to take the same precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19, from wearing face masks to regular hand-washing.
“We’re taking the same measures we take with all COVID cases, including contact tracing,” he wrote in an email. “We are also sequencing the variant and reviewing research and information from other locations where the variant has appeared. For New Mexicans, the same guidance applies: continue following COVID-safe practices, and please register for vaccine at vaccinenm.org.”