A coronavirus variant first observed in South Africa has been identified in Eastern Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Health is investigating the case and the person’s travel history.
The variant, also known as SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351, has been shown to be more easily transmitted from person to person. However, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause a more severe case of COVID-19, the state health department said Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified Virginia of the case, which was identified at a commercial lab. The CDC has been working with public health, academic and commercial labs to increase monitoring and sequencing of thousands of specimens every week.
The variant has been identified elsewhere in the U.S., including in Maryland and South Carolina.
Four cases of the variant first observed in the U.K. have also been identified in Virginia.
Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 work for all of the virus variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least 6 feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it’s your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
The variant first identified in South Africa contains a mutation of the virus’ characteristic spike protein targeted by existing vaccines, which may mean the available vaccines offer less protection against the variant, The Associated Press reported.
You can learn more about the emerging variants on the CDC’s website.
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