BOSTON (WHDH) - The threat of a new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus is raising concern across Massachusetts.

The variant, known as B117, has now been detected in Florida, Colorado and California.

Health experts across the country are tracing and monitoring the potential spread.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that he does not want people to be alarmed by the new variant but instead be aware.

“I don’t think Californians should feel that this is something odd,” he said after the variant was detected in the state. “This something that is expected. We likely will be seeing reports from other states.”

Doctors in Massachusetts say it should not be a surprise if the new strain is already circulating in the Bay State.

“It’s not something that should induce panic but it’s something people should take seriously,” Dr. Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, explained.

The variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom and health experts say it does not appear to be deadlier or cause more severe illness.

With surging COVID-19 cases nationwide, Doron says everyone should remember the basics.

“This right now is not the time to travel,” she said. “t’s not the time to gather with people outside your household. I’s not the time to forget your masks, your hand hygiene. We have to do all those things really now more than ever before all while knowing that we do have a light at the end of the tunnel now.”

Nearly 80,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the Bay State as of Tuesday, according to the state’s weekly COVID-19 vaccination report.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox