New Jersey has recorded its first death from the highly-contagious U.K. variant of COVID-19.
The unidentified resident succumbed to the virus on Wednesday, State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli confirmed at a press conference.
The victim had ‘significant underlying health conditions’ but had no international travel history. Their age was not released.
The UK variant of the coronavirus, known as B 1.1.7 and dubbed ‘Super-COVID’, is feared to be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the general coronavirus strain.
On Wednesday, six new cases of the Super-COVID were confirmed in New Jersey, with the ages of those testing positive ranging from 10 to 65. Only one has recently traveled overseas. The New Jersey Health Department did not disclose which country the person had traveled to.
There are now at least 329 confirmed cases of Super-COVID across the United States, including at least 92 in California and Florida respectively.
Initially, the mutation was simply feared to be more contagious than the common COVID-19 infection. However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week it is now feared that it may also be 30 percent more deadly.
Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed the same sentiment last Wednesday, telling NBC’s Today show: ‘I’m convinced that there is a degree of increase in the seriousness of the actual infection which we really have to keep an eye on.’
Earlier this month, a 40-year-old woman in Texas died from the Super-COVID strain just days after being admitted to hospital.
New Jersey has recorded its first death from the highly-contagious U.K. variant of COVID-19. A patient is pictured being treated for the disease in a New Jersey hospital earlier this month
New York has confirmed at least 22 cases of the variant, with Governor Andrew Cuomo expressing frustration that more is not yet known about deadly it is.
Super-COVID is one of several new strains of the coronavirus detected in recent weeks.
At least two homegrown US variants have been confirmed in Ohio, while another has been detected in Illinois.
Another mutation first detected in Brazil, known as E484K, has also been detected on US shores. Additionally, a variant known as 1452R, first seen in Denmark, is said to account for up to 50 percent of cases in California.
On Thursday, a highly-contagious strain originating in South Africa was confirmed in the United States for the first time.
Two people in South Carolina tested positive to the mutation – known as B. 1.351 varian – despite having not traveled outside the country. This has sparked fears that the strain is already spreading widely in the community.
‘We don’t know exactly what is going on with the new strains,’ Gov. Cuomo told reporters during a briefing on Wednesday.
‘The concept of not knowing is very troubling for me.’
A drive-thru coronavirus test site is seen in Paramus, New Jersey. Six additional cases of Super-COVID were confirmed in the Garden State on Wednesday
At present, it’s believed COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Morderna will still be effective in the short-term against the mutations confirmed in the US.
Scientists are now scrambling to invent ‘booster shots’, amid fears that mutations could eventually diminish the ability of vaccine-induced antibodies to neuter the coronavirus.
President Biden has temporarily banned flights from South Africa, and he has re-imposed restrictions on those entering the US from the United Kingdom after Donald Trump vowed to lift them during his final days in office.
‘I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of noncitizens of the United States (“noncitizens”) who were physically present within the Schengen Area (of Europe), the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,’ Biden stated.
In a separate executive order, Biden stated that travelers from all other countries arriving in the US must be ‘required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry’ and ‘required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry’.
Meanwhile, the CDC is now ‘actively looking at’ new measures for Americans who fly between states as the number of coronavirus cases remain stubbornly high.
A new proposal asserts that travelers would have to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding planes flying domestically.
It comes as the country’s vaccine rollout continues to lag.
Vaccinations began five weeks ago, but just 6.2 per cent of the US population have gotten their first doses of either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s two-dose vaccines. That comes to about 20.7 million having received at least one dose of the vaccine.
About 3.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As of Friday, 25.5 million Americans have tested positive to COVID-19, and more than 429,000 have died.
President Biden predicts the death toll will surge above half a million deaths next month.
Earlier on Wednesday, drivers were seen waiting in line at the mega COVID-19 vaccination site that was set up in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium