COLUMBIA, SC — A new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa has been found in the United States for the first time, with two cases diagnosed in South Carolina, state health officials said Thursday.
The two cases don’t appear to be connected, nor do the people have a history of recent travel, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said.
“That’s frightening,” because it means there could be more undetected cases within the state, said Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. “It’s probably more widespread.”
The arrival of this variant now surging in other countries shows that “the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director, said in a statement. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together.”
The two people infected with this variant are adults; one is from South Carolina’s Lowcountry and the other from the Pee Dee region, the state said, while withholding other information to protect their privacy.