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DHS confirms the British variant of COVID-19 found in Wisconsin

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) – also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19 – isolated from a patient in the United States emerging from the surface of cells (green) that are grown in the lab.

MADISON, Wis. – Health authorities have confirmed that a more contagious COVID-19 variant, first identified in the UK, has found its way to Wisconsin.

The variant, designated B.1.1.7, was identified on Tuesday according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. There is no evidence that the new variant causes more serious illness or risk of death.

“We already know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, and with this new variant appearing to be even more contagious, it is even more important to take preventative measures such as wearing a mask and physically distancing,” said DHS- Secretary Andrea Palm.

Officials said the variant was identified through routine monitoring and genome sequencing.

“Mutations among viruses are very common. This is not unusual – in fact, it is expected. As time goes on in the pandemic and the virus continues to replicate on a large scale, the genetic sequence of the virus will change, ”said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.

The variant was first found in the United States in Colorado about two weeks ago.

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