First case of South African COVID variant reported in Northern Region

Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 17:37:49-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The first case of the South African COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.351, has been confirmed in the Northern Region of the Commonwealth, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) officials announced Thursday.

This newly-confirmed case brings the total number of South African variant cases in Virginia to 20, according to VDH officials.

The adult who was infected with the variant had no history of travel during the exposure period, officials said.

The Northern Region consists of the Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun, and Prince William health districts.

This announcement comes days after VDH said the variant had been discovered in Central Virginia and also Northwest Virginia.

Viruses mutate constantly, and many variants of the coronavirus are circulating around the globe, but scientists are primarily concerned with three that appear to spread more easily.

COVID-19 variant strains that were first linked in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), and Brazil (P.1) were reported in 49 states as of Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 3283 out of the 3389 cases are the most contagious variant known as B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the U.K.

VDH also noted there is a total of 49 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, also referred to as the United Kingdom (U.K.) variant, in the state.

According to the CDC, the states with the most cases are Florida (689), California (262) and Michigan (437).

Fifteen cases of P.1, which was first linked in Brazil, have been reported in nine states.

The CDC said the cases identified do not represent the total number of variant cases circulating in the states and might not match the numbers reported by local and state health departments.

These variants are known to be more contagious, but are not associated with more severeness of the disease, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends people wear masks, stay 6 feet apart from others, avoid crowds, ventilate indoor spaces, and wash hands often to prevent the spread of the variants.