Massachusetts confirms 2nd case of coronavirus’ UK variant

BOSTON (AP) — A second case of the more infectious coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom has been confirmed in Massachusetts, state health officials said Wednesday.

The second case was confirmed Tuesday by a state laboratory and is a man in his 20s from Worcester County, a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Health said in an email.

No other information on the person was provided.

The first case confirmed last weekend was in a Boston woman in her 20s who had traveled to the United Kingdom and felt sick the day after she returned, the state Department of Public Health said. The woman had tested negative for COVID-19 before leaving the U.K., officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the variant is about 50% more contagious than the common strain but that vaccines are thought to be equally effective in preventing it.

Surveillance laboratory testing for the U.K. variant continues both in the state lab as well as in collaboration with clinical diagnostic laboratories and academic partners.

___

VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths rose by 78 on Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by nearly 4,000.

The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 13,547 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to more than 458,000.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were more than 2,200 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 440 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 71. There were an estimated more than 90,000 current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 7,817.

(Copyright (c) 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)