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Nassau County now has two confirmed cases of the South African variant of Covid-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office stated in a news release today.

New York’s first case of the South African strain was reported in Nassau on Sunday. Two days later, health officials have confirmed a second, also in Nassau. Officials say the South African variant is not more deadly but could be more contagious.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and brighter each day, but we’re not there yet,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I encourage New Yorkers to remain vigilant until the war is won: Wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands.”

Last week, a Connecticut resident was hospitalized in New York City with the South African variant; however, these are the first New York residents to contract this strain of the virus. Opentrons Labworks Inc’s Pandemic Response Lab, a New York City-based commercial lab, verified the cases at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, according to the state health department.

A Nassau County spokeswoman said the county could not reveal which town or towns the cases are in.

“The county is taking seriously the emergence of more contagious variants, but we know that taking the recommended precautions will keep you safe from all strains of the virus,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “Confirmation of another case of the South African variant here in Nassau underscores the importance of continuing to wear masks, distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”

The state also announced that there are 18 new cases of the UK variant of Covid-19 statewide, bringing the total to 154 known cases. Long Island accounts for 23 of those cases — 11 in Nassau and 12 in Suffolk.

Long Island’s overall Covid-19 positivity rate, on a 7-day average, is 4.3 percent. There are 1,024 patients with Covid-19 in Long Island hospitals.

Twelve people died of Covid-19 on Long Island yesterday — 4 in Nassau and 8 in Suffolk.

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus.

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