LDH has confirmed 2 additional cases of the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7, in Southwest Louisiana. This brings the state’s total number of confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant to 5 — 2 identified in Region 1 (Greater New Orleans) and 3 identified in Region 5 (Southwest Louisiana).
This variant is referred to as the U.K. variant because it was first detected in the United Kingdom. This variant spreads more easily from one person to another than other viral strains currently circulating in the United States. However, current COVID-19 vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant strain. Further study is needed to determine if there is increased disease severity associated with the B.1.1.7 strain.
The individuals did not report a history of travel outside of Louisiana.
Case investigators are now performing contact tracing to identify and monitor anyone who was in close contact with the cases.
The LDH said another 20 additional suspect variant cases are pending confirmation testing. Of those cases, 13 are in the Greater New Orleans area and seven are in southwest Louisiana.
The LDH previously said there are likely many more undetected cases in those areas and across Louisiana because most COVID-19 lab tests are not able to identify specific variant strains.
The two additional B.1.1.7 cases were detected in individuals in Southwest Louisiana. Case investigations and contact tracing were performed to identify, inform and monitor anyone who was in close contact with the cases. The individuals did not report a history of travel outside of Louisiana.