Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

U.K coronavirus variant detected in Spokane County

State reports at least one case identified of strain more contagious than original virus

 

Last updated 3/12/2021 at 10:40am



SPOKANE COUNTY — One of the variants making COVID-19 more contagious, and potentially more lethal, has been detected in in the region.

The Washington State Department of Health notified the Spokane Regional Health District that one case of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant has been detected in the county through genome sequencing. The variant was first identified in the United Kingdom by researchers in November 2020, and scientists say it spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.

“Finding variants in our community does not change how we respond,” SRHD interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez said in March 12 statement. “It does reinforce the need for everyone in our county to be diligent in following the health measures. Wear a mask, wash your hands, physically distance, and avoid large gatherings where distancing isn’t possible.”

Velazquez said it was only a matter of time before on of the variants was discovered locally. The variant was first identified in Puget Sound counties in early February, with five cases spread through Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

According to the state’s “SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing and Variants in Washington State” March 11 report, 99 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been detected in Washington residents. Another five cases of the B.1.351 variant originating in Brazil and one case of the P.1 variant from South Africa have also been detected.

Velazquez further explained following public health guidance is important because viruses mutate when they are transmitted from one person to another. The best way to combat mutations is to stop transmissions.

“It is even more important than ever that we all continue to consistently take steps that prevent the spread of the virus,” Velazquez added. “Follow public health guidance, test if you are exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19, and get vaccinated when you are eligible.”

SRHD officials said COVID-19 vaccines currently available should provide good protection against this strain. National health experts believe it’s like some individuals involved in the testing samples for the just release J&J vaccine had at least one of the variants, while those involved in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which came out in late 2020/early 2021, may have been infected with a variant.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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