A New Hampshire resident has tested positive for a more-contagious variant of the coronavirus, state health officials announced Friday.

A Hillsborough County resident tested positive Friday for the variant of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom, after contact with someone who had traveled internationally and tested positive for COVID-19.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has been monitoring COVID-19 tests for the variant, because it is known to be spreading in the United States.

State health officials said studies from the U.K. have shown the variant is about 50% more contagious than strains that have been circulating in the U.S., but the COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to prevent the virus variant.

The person who was infected with the U.K. virus variant was in close contact with his or her household members who may also have been exposed, state health officials said, but they do not believe the person infected has spread the virus.

State officials are not disclosing the person’s name, age, gender or town of residence, saying only the person is an adult.

Contact tracers have already been in touch with the person’s close contacts, who have all been tested. All potentially-exposed people are isolating, state health officials say, and they do not believe there is a risk to the public because of this particular infection.

But state epidemiologist Benjamin Chan said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected the U.K. virus variant will become the most common form of the virus in the weeks and months to come.

“The best way to avoid exposure to this highly contagious variant is to wear a mask, social distance and frequent hand washing,” Chan said in a statement Friday.

On Friday, Gov. Chris Sununu issued an executive order to extend the state of emergency he initially declared in March 2020. This is the 16th extension of the state of emergency in New Hampshire. 

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