PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ While the highly-contagious variant of the coronavirus hasn’t been detected yet, Rhode Island Department of Health Medical Director Dr. James McDonald fully expects it to wind up in the Ocean State.

“We’re going to find it eventually is my guess,” McDonald said during an interview with 12 News Now at 4 anchors Kim Kalunian and Brian Yocono. (Watch the full interview in the video above.)

Most recently, the variant was was detected in two Connecticut residents, which is the closest to Rhode Island it has traveled so far.

“It hasn’t been found in Rhode Island yet, but we’re looking for it,” McDonald said. “Connecticut is not that far away, we share a border.”

“Right now, we are looking at past specimens and current specimens, and we’re going to be doing some surveillance for future specimens,” he continued.

While the variant is much more contagious, McDonald said the same strategies used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will work to prevent the spread of the variant as well.

“It’s just more contagious, which is another reason to keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing,” McDonald said.

When asked about the Food and Drug Administration’s warning regarding the false negatives being produced by Curative’s COVID-19 test, McDonald reassured Rhode Islanders that that test is not being used by the Department of Health.

But he said that doesn’t mean Rhode Islanders shouldn’t be aware of other tests producing false negatives.

“That’s one of those things where, if you’re still having symptoms, you’ll want to say ‘hmm, let me think about that,'” he said. “But the tests we use in Rhode Island are really, really good.”

Some viewers have written into 12 Responds claiming that they tested positive for COVID-19, but later learned they actually had the flu.

When asked whether a test can misidentify the flu as the coronavirus, McDonald said that’s just not possible.

“The test we use for COVID detects the genetic material for COVID, which is completely different than the flu,” he explained.

When it comes to the flu in Rhode Island, McDonald said this year the Department of Health is “not seeing a whole lot of flu.”

“It’s one of our New Year’s traditions, the flu,” he said. “Part of why I think this is happening is because we are wearing our masks, staying six feet a part and I think a lot of people got the vaccine, so that’s good news.”