NY confirms first case of Covid-19 variant

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that a laboratory has confirmed the state’s first case of the new Covid-19 variant, which was first discovered in Britain last month.

“An individual from Saratoga County, New York, tested positive for the strain. The individual had no known travel history,” Xinhua news agency quoted the Governor as saying in an official statement on Monday.

“It’s a gentleman who is in his 60s. He was symptomatic, but he is on the mend and he’s doing better. He did not travel recently, so this suggests that it’s in the community, it was community spread as opposed to having travelled to the UK,” he said in the statement.

“If you went to the N. Fox Jewelers store in Saratoga Springs from December 18 through December 24 (2020) you should contact us and get a test immediately.

“From a public health point of view now it’s about contact tracing, and this UK strain is reported to be 70 per cent more contagious than the normal Covid strain. So, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to do effective contact tracing on this case,” he added.

The test was conducted at the Wadsworth Center, the research-intensive public health laboratory of the New York State Department of Health (DoH) located in Albany.

On December 22, 2020, the New York state government announced that the Wadsworth Lab had begun aggressive research of the new, highly contagious Covid-19 strain.

Wadsworth and the DoH had signed agreements with six hospitals from across the state to obtain additional samples and is continuing to make arrangements with other hospitals to do the same, it said.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Governor announced that the total Covid-19 hospitalisations topped 8,000, reaching 8,251 on Sunday in New York state, up from 7,963 the previous day.

Meanwhile, of the 134,360 COVID-19 tests reported on Sunday in the state, 11,209 were positive, or 8.34 per cent of the total, up from 7.98 per cent a day earlier, said Cuomo, adding that the fatalities rose to 170 on Sunday, compared with 138 reported the previous day.

The last time that the rate topped 8 per cent was on December 29, 2020, reaching 8.66 per cent, according to Governor.

“We have the hospital system all across the state being monitored daily and we’re having those hospitals do what they need to do to the greatest extent possible within their capacity to manage the surge, what we call surge and flex,” Cuomo was quoted as saying in another statement.

As of Tuesday morning, New York state has reported 1,069,073 confirmed coronavirus cases and 38,583 deaths, the highest in the country.