First case of COVID variant confirmed in Southwest Virginia
The Virginia Department of Health announced late Thursday that the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 has been discovered in a patient case in Southwest Virginia.
The agency reported that an adult resident with the COVID variant had just returned from international travel and is the first case diagnosed in this part of the Commonwealth. VDH noted that all contacts of the case have been identified and managed.
Health officials did not disclose where the patient resides. The variant was first discovered in South Africa and has been confirmed in patients in nine US states.
The statement said:
“The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Southwest Virginia who recently returned to Virginia after international travel. All contacts of the case have been identified and appropriately managed. The B.1.351 variant, which first emerged in South Africa in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease. To date, the B.1.351 variant has been identified in nine other U.S. states.
“The Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) confirmed the case using next-generation sequencing that provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition to this case of the B.1.351 variant, two other cases of the B.1.351 variant and 12 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant have now been identified in Virginia, as of Thursday, Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. With the combined state and national surveillance efforts, it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.
“Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as disease spreads. As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures. We are in a race to stop the spread of these new variants. The more people that become infected, the greater that chance the virus will mutate and a variant will arise that could undermine the current vaccination efforts. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.”
(IMAGE: WXBQ Archives)