Health officials in California have confirmed a first case of the new COVID-19 strain that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

“Just an hour or so ago we were informed that this new variant, this new strain has been identified here in the state of California, in southern California,” , Governor Gavin Newsom said in a virtual discussion with top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday.

The novel variant of the coronavirus was also confirmed in Colorado earlier on Tuesday, in which a male in his 20s appeared to have been infected. According to Governor Jared Polis, the individual has been isolated and had no travel history. The Colorado case appeared to mark the first registered case of the new COVID variant in the United States.

The new variant of the virus, which is said to be more contagious than other strains of the virus, was discovered in the UK earlier in December, prompting multiple nations to temporarily suspend travel to the country.

Apart from Britain, the new strain has been found in several other countries, including Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, the UAE, and others.

The United States has the highest infection and death rates in the world as a result of the pandemic, with over 19 million registered cases and a death toll of over 341,000