NJ confirms 1st cases of UK COVID-19 variant in young child, man in his 60s: officials

TRENTON, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- A man in his 60s and a young child have contracted New Jersey’s first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant initially found in the United Kingdom, health officials said Friday.

The Ocean County man developed COVID-19 symptoms on Dec. 29, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said at a news briefing Friday afternoon.

A test the man took at a commercial lab on Jan. 6 came back positive, with results that were “suggestive” of the U.K. variant, Persichilli said. A second lab confirmed that he had contracted the U.K. variant.

The man “had no travel history, or a clear exposure to others who were ill,” she said. He was never hospitalized, and no longer has symptoms, she noted.

A “young traveler” staying in northern New Jersey, meanwhile, tested positive for the U.K. COVID-19 variant in New York City on Jan. 11, despite exhibiting no symptoms, Persichilli said.

The local health department is investigating the case, she added, without immediately providing the child’s age or the county in which the child was staying.

“As you know, viruses constantly change through mutation and new variants of a virus are expected to occur after time,” she said. “While the variant may spread more easily and more quickly than previous strains, at this time there is no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease, according to the CDC.”

“It is also reported that the current vaccines are effective against the variant,” she added.

New Jersey reported 3,694 new positive COVID-19 test results and 118 new virus-related deaths on Friday, pushing its PCR test total to 584,291 and its death toll to 18,754.

As of Thursday night, 3,328 New Jerseyans were hospitalized with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, 638 of whom were in intensive care and 445 of whom were on ventilators.