(CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the first Michigan case of the new COVID-19 variant was identified in a boy living in Jackson County.

It was announced Monday and case investigation is currently underway to determine close contacts and if there are additional cases associated with this case.

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The new variant – B.1.351 which was originally detected in early October 2020 in South Africa – is believed to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months. Scientists are still evaluating how well COVID-19 vaccines work against this new variant.

To date, the virus has been identified in at least 20 other states and jurisdictions in the U.S. This is the only known case in Michigan at this time, however it is possible that there are more that have not been identified.

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“We are concerned about the discovery of another variant in Michigan, although it was not unexpected,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.”

As of March 8, Michigan has also identified 516 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in 23 Michigan jurisdictions.

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