What you should know about the new strain of COVID-19

A local health expert is discussing what you should know about the new strain of COVID-19, as different variants of COVID-19 emerge. 
A new strain of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom has now been found in 12 patients across the state, including two here in the city, according to the mayor. 
The new strain is raising questions about symptoms people should look out for. 
"There's no difference in symptomatology between the two strains. If people have a fever, cough, dry cough, loss of sense of smell, all of those are the same as we've been seeing throughout the course of this pandemic,” said Dr. Steven Pulitzer from NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County. 
Dr. Steven Pulitzer says while there aren’t major differences in symptoms between the new strains, the variants are more contagious. 
"Both have a mutation to part of the spiked protein that allows it to enter the cells more easily, and it is much more infectious,” says Dr. Pulitzer. 
Dr. Pulitzer says that health experts have not seen an increase in the severity of illness with the variants. 
He says research shows that the COVID-19 vaccines should be able to protect against them. 
However, with the seven-day rolling average for COVID cases at 8.93% and those new strains now being detected in the city, Dr. Pulitzer says it’s especially important to continue to do your part to stay safe. 
"If people continue to social distance, wear the masks, and really wash hands and make sure they're doing all the things they've been doing all along really well, I think that we could not see such a huge increase in people coming into the hospital,” says Dr. Pulitzer. 
Dr. Pulitzer says he’s hoping to prevent seeing a surge like last year during the height of the pandemic.