North Carolina is the fourth state in which the South African Covid-19 variant has been detected, according to a press release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
DHHS stated the B.1.351 variant “was identified in a sample from an adult in the central part of the state who had not recently traveled.”
Previously, the nine cases of the variant had been detected throughout South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia.
“Viruses change all the time, and NCDHHS expects to see new COVID-19 variants in the state as the pandemic continues,” according to DHHS. “Data suggest this variant may be more contagious than other variants but does not suggest that it causes more severe disease. Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against this and other new variants.”
In a press conference last week, David Priest, an infectious disease specialist for Novant Health, said it was guaranteed that the presence of Covid-19 variants would soon be confirmed in the state.
As questions and anxieties cropped up after variants were first spotted in the country, guidance over mask-wearing started to evolve.
While health officials are still urging everyone to wear a face covering while in public, the DHHS now emphasizes the need to wear “two or more layers for your face.”
“You can do this by wearing a cloth face covering with two or more layers or by wearing one disposable mask (sometimes referred to as a surgical mask or a medical procedure mask) underneath a cloth mask,” according to the DHHS.
Thursday, WECT reported that two Pender County residents had been diagnosed with the B.1.1.7 variant that is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom.
It is unclear why the test results of those two individuals were sent to the state for further analysis, according to WECT. Identifying variants is not possible with a standard Covid-19 test; it requires additional laboratory work.
According to the DHHS, the individual diagnosed with the South African variant was initially administered a LabCorp test, which was “selected for sequencing as part of a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
“While we anticipated the arrival of the B.1.351 variant in NC, it’s a reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is not over,” said health secretary Mandy Cohen in A press release. “The emergence of variants that are more infectious means it’s more important than ever to do what we know works to slow the spread — wear a mask, wash your hands, wait 6 feet apart, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”
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