Virginia reports new case of COVID-19 variant that emerged in S. Africa

A Northwest Virginia adult has contracted the B.1.351 variant of coronavirus, the Virginia health department said Tuesday.

It’s the first case of the variant in the northwest region of Virginia, which initially emerged in South Africa late last year, and is associated with an increased transmission of COVID-19.

The health department said the person did not travel during the exposure period.

“With the identification of this case in the Northwest Region, Virginia has now identified a total of 4 cases of the B.1.351 variant and 20 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom,” the health department said, adding that “it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.”

A state lab confirmed the case using next-generation sequencing.

In addition to Virginia, the B. 1.351 variant has been identified in 15 other U.S. states and jurisdictions, including Maryland and D.C., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misidentified this as the first case in Virginia.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

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