SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — County public health officials confirm that at least one person has died due to the UK strain of the coronavirus.
One man, a 71-year-old man with underlying conditions, died on Jan. 1 and has been identified as a probable case of the UK variant, known as B.1.1.7.
Officials say the man is a direct household member of a confirmed B.1.1.7. case who was PCR-confirmed.
Medical experts have said that the UK coronavirus variant appears to be more contagious than the initial strain of the virus, but wasn't any more dangerous and could be fought with current vaccines.
In San Diego County, the county says that 109 confirmed UK-variant cases and 44 probable cases have been identified since the variant was first identified locally.
"The fact that these cases have been identified in multiple parts of the region shows that this strain of the virus could be rapidly spreading," said Wilma Wooten, County public health officer, earlier this month. "People should be extra cautious to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19, especially this variant, which research has shown is more contagious.
“We are doing everything we can to determine how fast this new strain is spreading, especially since the region’s daily case count has dramatically increased in recent weeks."
Researchers say a surge in Southern California may be attributed to another variant, identified as CAL.20C. The variant has been identified in nearly a third of cases in the Los Angeles area in November and December.