RICHMOND, Va. -- The South African COVID variant -- also known as B.1.351 -- has now been detected in Northwest Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
This is now the fourth case of the South African COVID variant confirmed in the state. The first was reported at the beginning of February.
VDH officials said the adult resident in Northwest Virginia who tested positive for the variant had no recent history of traveling.
The South African COVID variant is known to be more contagious, but it is not associated with more severeness of the disease, according to the CDC.
The B.1.351 variant has been identified in 15 other U.S. states and jurisdictions to date, including North Carolina, D.C. and Maryland, according to the CDC.
VDH said there are now 20 confirmed cases of another COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
According to the CDC, an increase in the number of these variant cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths because of their ability to spread more quickly than other variants.
So far, the CDC said studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with the currently authorized vaccines have been found to combat these variants, but more studies are underway.
Continued compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene and isolation and quarantine is essential, both the CDC and VDH said.