MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A person in Multnomah County is the first in Oregon to test positive for a COVID-19 variant strain from the United Kingdom.
The Oregon Health Authority announced the positive test for the strain, known as B.1.1.7 or SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01, on Friday night.
The U.K. strain has been detected in several states, including California, according to OHA, but this is the first positive in Oregon.
Health officials are investigating the possible sources of the infection. The person who tested positive has no known travel history, according to OHA.
Viruses constantly mutate, OHA reports, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the U.S. and globally during the pandemic. Most variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear.
Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they might spread, and currently there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death, or affect vaccine effectiveness, according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention.
“The detection of the first case of this variant strain is a concern, and we have been monitoring movement of this strain,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA. “As we learn more about this case and the individual who tested positive for this strain, OHA continues to promote effective public health measures, including wearing masks, maintaining six feet of physical distance, staying home, washing your hands, and avoiding gatherings and travel.”
Multnomah County Public Health staff is working through the weekend to go back over details with the person who tested positive, related to their isolation plan, contacts and any possible exposures.
OHA reported 1,073 new cases of COVID-19 statewide Friday, along with 21 additional deaths connected with the coronavirus.