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New coronavirus variant shows up in North Carolina

State officials are reporting the first case in North Carolina of a more contagious strain of the coronavirus that was first detected in the United Kingdom in December.

Officials said in a news release Saturday that the B.1.1.7 variant was identified in a sample from an adult in Mecklenburg County. No other details about the person were released.

As of Friday, almost 200 cases of B.1.1.7 had been reported in 21 states.

Health officials have said that early data suggest that the variant may be more contagious than other variants of the virus, but that the current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against it.

“While expected, identification of this COVID-19 variant in North Carolina is concerning, especially at the same time as we are already seeing very high numbers of cases,” said state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

North Carolina residents are subject to a government stay at home order requiring them to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Businesses including restaurants, bars and most retail stores are required to close by 10 p.m., and all onsite alcohol consumption sales must end by 9 p.m.

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