First Case of COVID-19 Variant From South Africa Found in Virginia: Governor

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The first case of a COVID-19 variant from South Africa has been diagnosed in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday.

The case was identified by a private lab, Northam said. He didn’t immediately note where the patient lived or if they have a recent travel history.

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The South African variant – also known as the B.1.351 variant – has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other strains, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. However, the variant could be more transmissible than other variants, NBC Washington reported.

“These variants make it urgent to get as many people vaccinated, as quickly and as equitably as possible,” Northam said.

Viruses mutate to survive, and less transmission means fewer opportunities for new variants to develop, Northam, a pediatrician, said. Taking health measures like wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing are still the best ways to ensure you stay healthy.

Virginia also has counted four cases of a coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom.

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