NEW YORK: A state laboratory has confirmed New York State's first case of the UK variant (B.1.1.7) of the virus that causes the COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted on Monday.
"An individual from Saratoga County, New York, tested positive for the strain. The individual had no known travel history," said Cuomo in his tweet.
"It's a gentleman who is in his 60s. He was symptomatic, but he is on the mend and he's doing better. He did not travel recently, so this suggests that it's in the community, it was community spread as opposed to having traveled to the UK," the governor was quoted as saying in an official release.
"If you went to the N. Fox Jewelers store in Saratoga Springs from December 18th through December 24th you should contact us and get a test immediately. From a public health point of view now it's about contact tracing, and this UK strain is reported to be 70 percent more contagious than the normal COVID strain. So, we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to do effective contact tracing on this case," he added.
The test was done at the Wadsworth Center, the research-intensive public health laboratory of the New York State Department of Health (DoH) located in Albany.
The New York State government announced on Dec. 22 that the Wadsworth Lab had begun aggressive research of the new, highly contagious COVID-19 strain that has been discovered in the United Kingdom.
Wadsworth and DoH had forged agreements with six hospitals from across the state to obtain additional samples and is continuing to make arrangements with other hospitals to do the same, it said.
Meanwhile on Monday, the governor tweeted that the total COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 8,000, reaching 8,251 on Sunday in New York State, up from 7,963 on Saturday.
He once warned that a post-holiday hike of the coronavirus hospitalizations was expected, because people would usually travel and gather during this time, which could fuel the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, of the 134,360 COVID-19 tests reported on Sunday in the state, 11,209 were positive, or 8.34 percent of the total, up from 7.98 percent one day earlier, said Cuomo, adding that the fatalities rose to 170 on Sunday, compared with 138 on Saturday.
The last time that the rate topped 8 percent was on Dec. 29, reaching 8.66 percent, according to the records on the governor's Twitter account.
"We have the hospital system all across the state being monitored daily and we're having those hospitals do what they need to do to the greatest extent possible within their capacity to manage the surge, what we call surge and flex," said the governor in the official release featuring the announcement of the figures.
As of Monday evening, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 38,583 coronavirus deaths in New York State, the worst in the country.