BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — State Department of Health officials said Wednesday that the variant strain of the coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom has now been confirmed in North Dakota.

Health officials said one person had recently returned from domestic travel before getting sick and the second person was a close contact of the first. Officials said one other case is suspected to be the UK variant and is currently under investigation.

Kirby Kruger, disease control director for the state Health Department, said the variant strain “is thought to be” more contagious and people should continue to follow COVID-19 protocols. Preliminary studies have shown the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use are effective against the UK variant strain, Kruger said.

This variant strain of the virus was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020 and has been found in numerous countries around the world. To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 1,173 cases from 41 U.S. states.

State health officials reported 123 new COVID-19 cases in the last day, increasing the total to 98,901 since the start of the pandemic. The death count remained unchanged at 1,431.

Officials said a total of 166,512 vaccine doses have been administered in North Dakota, with 16% of residents receiving one dose and 7% getting both shots.