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COVID-19 variant from South Africa identified in Virginia

The first case of the South African COVID-19 variant, B.1.351, has been identified in a blood sample of an adult resident of Eastern Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Health said in a press release on Feb. 5 that the variant first emerged in South Africa late last year and is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. It has been identified in just two other U.S. states, South Carolina and Maryland.

“At this time, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease,” said the release.

In addition to the B.1.351 variant, four cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have now been identified in Virginia. Because viruses change all the time, it is likely that other COVID-19 variants will be identified, as well, said the release. This makes it critical that all Virginians comply with mitigation measures.

“We are in a race to stop the spread of these new variants,” said the release. “The more people that become infected, the greater...

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