Colorado’s health department reported it has found the new variant of the coronavirus that may be more transmissible, Gov. Jared Polis announced on Tuesday afternoon.
The new variant was first found in the United Kingdom, forcing the country into tier four restrictions just days before Christmas. State health officials said the variant was found in a man in his 20s with no travel history.
A study by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the new variant is 56 percent more transmissible than other strains. The British government previously said it could be up to 70 percent more transmissible.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority, and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely,” Polis said.
The variant has also been found in Canada, Italy, India and the United Arab Emirates.
The discovery of the new variant in the U.K. led to border closures in European countries like Ireland, France, Belgium, and Germany. The British government has also found an infectious variant from South Africa but has not seen any spread but Coronavirus cases have notably increased in England over the past few weeks.
President Donald Trump’s coronavirus vaccine czar, Moncef Slaoui has previously said both vaccines should be effective against new strains.
The Colorado lab discovered the new strain through testing samples, initially spotting a tell-tale sign of the variant in a PCR test, according to the government office.
“Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation,” the CDC said.