RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Monday morning that the first case of the B.1.351 variant of the coronavirus has been identified in a central Virginia adult resident with no history of travel during the exposure period.
Health officials say the B.1.351 variant first surfaced in South Africa late last year and has been identified in 19 other states since then.
This strain of the virus is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, but there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease, according to the department.
With this new case identified in central Virginia, the VDH says a total of 11 cases of the South African variant and 31 cases of the United Kingdom variant have been identified in the Commonwealth as of Monday, March 8.
VDH says they expect to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the disease continues to spread.
Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as 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