Outagamie County health officials confirm South Africa COVID-19 variant

(Associated Press)
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 5:07 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Outagamie County Public Health Division says the South Africa variant of the COVID-19 virus was found in a test sample in their county.

The variant of the COVID-19 virus was first identified in Wisconsin in early March, and Outagamie County Public Health says this is only the second known case in the state. The South Africa variant, also called strain B.1.351, is more contagious and spreads faster than the original COVID-19 virus, but health officials aren’t sure if the risk of serious symptoms are the same or worse.

Wisconsin already identified the U.K. variant and just announced Friday that the state identified the first case of a Brazilian variant (see related story). Health officials say there are undoubtedly more cases than they’ve identified, because only a fraction of positive COVID-19 tests get genetically tested.

The local health department says all viruses mutate, so this isn’t unexpected, but says this demonstrates the need to remain vigilant against the viruses and continue good health practices: wearing a mask over the nose and mouth; social distancing from people who aren’t from your household, even family members; staying home when sick; and getting vaccinated as soon as you can.

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