NORTH BRANFORD — State and local officials are investigating a COVID outbreak that involves the variant of the virus first identified in the United Kingdom and is connected to “a large family gathering” in North Branford, according to the East Shore District Health Department.
One of the infected individuals who attended the gathering also is a member of the North Branford High School hockey team, East Shore Health Director Michael Pascucilla said, adding that the team quarantined last week.
Pascucilla said at least some of the infected persons in the cluster have the variant, called B.1.1.7., which is considered highly contagious. Its first Connecticut cases were detected early last month.
Pascucilla declined to provide an official tally of how many people were impacted because officials are still investigating the outbreak
But, he said, “everybody in the family gathering got ill.”
In a release the district issued, officials said the investigation is into an outbreak “which was the result of a large family gathering in the Town of North Branford. This outbreak also included persons identified with the COVID-19 variant strain B117, that was first isolated in the United Kingdom.”
“This outbreak is also linked to the North Branford High School Hockey team being quarantined,” the release said. “The East Shore District Health Department and North Branford School Officials are closely monitoring the contacts in quarantine.”
Pascucilla urged the public to follow COVID-19 guidelines and avoid large gatherings, especially with the Super Bowl and St. Patrick’s Day approaching.
“This is a reminder that it is important that people follow the rules, and with the variant that is more infectious, it’s time to take it serious and double down and do your part,” he said. “People are still getting sick and it’s gonna be a while before everybody has the vaccine.”
As of early last week, the state had identified eight cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, affecting New Haven, Oxford and West Haven, according to a release from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.
Last fall, Pascucilla also warned COVID-19 spread was an issue in the hockey community and said at least 20 infections had appeared among people who visited the Northford Ice Pavilion, which temporarily shut down.
Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker could not immediately be reached for comment Monday night.