The first known case of an apparently more contagious COVID-19 variant that's been seen in the United Kingdom has been confirmed in Yolo County, health officials said Monday.

The B.1.1.7 variant was confirmed by Healthy Davis Together and the UC Davis Genome Center. The person who tested positive for the variant may have contracted it through travel outside the community, the groups said.

The B.1.1.7 variant has already been found in Southern California and the Bay Area. The bulk of the confirmed cases have been in the San Diego area, Gov. Newsom said at a Monday news conference from Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres and a COVID-19 vaccination site.

“Even though Davis has an overall low rate of COVID-19 positive tests, it has always been a matter of when, not if, we would see new variants in the area. A variant that spreads more easily, such as B.1.1.7 (which originally emerged and spread in the UK), will eventually displace other variants,” David Coil, project director of Environmental Monitoring for Healthy Davis Together and Project Scientist at the Genome Center, said in a prepared statement.

Scientists at the Genome Center began genotyping positive samples of the virus in January as part of an effort to investigate variants of concern.

"Researchers have found evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant virus is more contagious and predict that it will spread rapidly in the US, doubling in relative frequency approximately every 10 days. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants," Healthy Davis Together and the UC Davis Genome Center said in a news release.

The UK variant was first reported in the U.S. in Colorado in late December. Days later, it was reported in San Diego.

Healthy Davis Together is a project between UC Davis and the City of Davis to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community and work toward a return to regular activities and student life.

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