COVID variant found in US, a pandemic first
COLUMBIA, S.C. (KLKN) — Two cases of the COVID-19 variant, first discovered in South Africa, have been confirmed in the U.S.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced the cases Thursday.
Experts say viruses are constantly changing, so the emergence of variants is not uncommon or unexpected. They are being closely monitored, as this variant may be able to spread faster than the original strain of COVID-19. There is no evidence that the South Africa strain causes a more severe illness.
Existing COVID-19 vaccines are believed to still protect against this variant.
“The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together.”
The South Africa variant has been identified in more than 30 countries, but this is the first case documented in the U.S.
So far, there is no known travel history or connection between the two South Carolina cases. DHEC continues to monitor the situation.
“We know that viruses mutate to live and live to mutate,” Dr. Traxler said. “That’s why it’s critical that we all continue to do our part by taking small actions that make a big difference. These include wearing our masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding large crowds, washing our hands, getting tested often, and when we can, getting vaccinated. These are the best tools for preventing the spread of the virus, no matter the strain.”
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