First case of COVID-19 variant B.1.351 found in Illinois

Coronavirus Watch Illinois

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. (NIAID/National Institutes of Health via AP)

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Illinois Department of Public Health officials said the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of COVID-19 variant B.1.351 was found in a Rock Island resident.

In a news release, officials said the variant was first identified in South Africa. There are also currently 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first found in the United Kingdom.

“We expected to see more cases of variants detected in Illinois, including the B.1.351 strain,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “These variants seem to spread more rapidly, which can lead to more cases of COVID-19 and even another surge.” She went on to say the best way to defeat the virus as soon as possible is to continue wearing masks and getting vaccinated when it is your turn.

“Having this new variant in our community underscores the need to take personal precautions to prevent further spread,” said Rock Island County Health Department Administrator Nita Ludwig. “Please continue to wear your mask when away from home, watch your distance when around others and wash your hands frequently.”

Officials stated cases of the B.1.351 variant were first reported in the U.S. at the end of January. “So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through the current COVID-19 vaccines recognize these variants and may offer some protection. Additional studies are underway.”

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