U.K. variant of COVID-19 found in West Virginia
Three cases of what is commonly known as the UK Variant of the COVID-19 virus have been found in the north central region of West Virginia, the Department of Health and Human Resources announced Friday night.
Forty-two other states have reported 1,523 cases of the B.1.1.7, or UK, Variant, including all of the states bordering West Virginia, the DHHR said. The department has collaborated with West Virginia University and Marshall University to conduct whole genome sequencing that is used to detect this variant.
“While the presence of this COVID-19 variant in West Virginia is not surprising, it’s a good motivator for us to double down on the prevention efforts we’ve had in place for many months now,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, state health officer and commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “Now that we have this confirmation, as Governor Justice always says, ‘It’s not time to be fearful; it’s time to be smart.’
“All West Virginians should continue hand washing, social distancing, proper mask wearing, testing,” she added, “and everyone should get vaccinated when it’s their turn.”
This variant of the virus is highly communicable, and researchers believe it may spread more easily and quickly due to a large number of mutations. According to the Centers for Disease Control, scientists believe the variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other versions, but more research is needed to confirm that finding.