First case of South African COVID-19 variant found in southwest Virginia

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced on Thursday that it has identified the first case of the South African COVID-19 variant B.1.351 in an adult who recently returned to southwest Virginia following international travel.

The VDH did not identify the person or where they live, but the department said that all contacts in the case have been identified and “appropriately managed.”

In addition to this new case of the B.1.351 variant, health officials say two other cases of the B.1.351 variant and 12 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant have been identified in the Commonwealth as of 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18.

So far, there is no evidence that infections with the South African variant cause more severe disease. However, the VDH says this strain has been identified in nine other states.

The department expects to see more variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the disease spreads.

As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures. We are in a race to stop the spread of these new variants. The more people that become infected, the greater that chance the virus will mutate and a variant will arise that could undermine the current vaccination efforts. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Virginia Department of Health

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