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The first known Texas case of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in a resident of Harris County, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Thursday, Jan. 7.

The adult male resident, who has no history of travel, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Results of genetic sequencing this week showed that the infection was caused by the variant strain. The case is being investigated by Harris County Public Health and the DSHS.

“The fact that this person had no travel history suggests this variant is already circulating in Texas,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner said.

“Genetic variations are the norm among viruses, and it’s not surprising that it showed up here given how rapidly it spreads. This should make us all redouble our commitment to the infection prevention practices that we know work: masks any time you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene.”

The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom in the fall and appears to spread much more easily from person to person than most strains of the coronavirus.

The current scientific evidence is that the variant does not cause more severe disease and that vaccines are expected to be effective against it. It is thought to be responsible for only a small proportion of the current COVID-19 cases in Texas and the United States.

The latest on COVID-19 in Texas is available at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus, including daily case data and information on testing and vaccination.

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