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First case of South African COVID-19 variant discovered in Wisconsin

DHS also noted that there have been 26 cases of the UK variant found in Wisconsin, up from the 19 that were reported on Thursday.
There’s a new warning from top U.S. health officials about coronavirus variants. Reports...
There’s a new warning from top U.S. health officials about coronavirus variants. Reports suggest those mutations could lead to a "rapid rise" in COVID-19 cases, if Americans become complacent.
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 5:05 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 6:02 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The first case of the South African COVID-19 variant has been discovered in the state, the Department of Health Services.

This new variant, coined B.1.351, is completely separate from the one originally discovered to be circulating in the UK, named B.1.1.7.

According to a news release, this variant strain spreads more rapidly and easily than the original strain of COVID-19. Researchers do not know if this variant has any impact on the severity of the virus.

“It is important to remember that new variants are expected to occur over time,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “Here in Wisconsin, whole-genome sequencing of positive specimens from COVID-19 cases is done on a regular basis.”

Health officials did note that this variant may affect how someone’s antibodies respond to the virus.

All three vaccines that are currently authorized, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, should reduce the risk of COVID-19, even with these variants.

DHS also noted that there have been 26 cases of the UK variant found in Wisconsin, up from the 19 that were reported on Thursday. There has only been one case of the South African variant, DHS says.

Willems Van Dijk asked that Wisconsinites stay vigilant in protecting themselves from COVID-19.

“Because these variants may spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, mask-wearing, staying home, physically distancing, and washing your hands continues to be crucial,” she said.

The department did not note in what city or county this new variant was found in.

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