BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has identified the state’s first case of a coronavirus variant believed to be more transmissible than the original.
The governor's office said Saturday the case was detected in a person in the New Orleans area.
The variant, first detected in Britain, has alarmed officials in many nations because studies indicate it may spread more easily than other viral strains, though it it is not believed to be more deadly and appears to be vulnerable to vaccines.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement saying it is urgent “that everyone double down on the mitigation measures that we know are effective in reducing the spread of the virus.”
Edwards noted that the variant has been detected in at least 15 other states.
In neighboring Texas, health officials in Dallas County on Saturday reported the state's third case of the variant, this one in a Dallas man in his 20s with no history of travel outside the United States.
Texas reported a Houston-area man as its first case of a person infected with the new variant on Jan. 7.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.