UTAH, Jan. 15, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Salt Lake County man was found to have Utah’s first known cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, frequently referred to as the “UK variant.”
The patient, whose age is between 25 and 44, had not traveled outside Utah, officials say.
“The case was discovered through ongoing genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples by the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL),” a statement from the Utah Department of Health says..
The man, who tested positive last month, had only mild symptoms of the highly contagious variant, the statement says.
“We fully anticipated we would find this strain in Utah,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist at the UDOH, in the prepared statement. “We know this strain is more transmissible than previous COVID-19 variants, and our hospitals continue to operate near or over capacity. So now more than ever, Utah residents need to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings.”
COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use are believed to be effective against this strain.
The Salt Lake County Health Department conducted routine case investigation and contact tracing activities with the case, the statement says.
The UPHL has been performing genomic sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus since the beginning of the pandemic, with the goal of sequencing 10% of the positive COVID-19 samples identified, the statement says. The lab sequences positive samples it identifies, as well as samples routinely submitted from other laboratories throughout the state.