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DHS begins to track COVID-19 variants in Wisconsin

DHS notes six cases of the variant strain found to be circulating in England has been discovered in Wisconsin.
There’s a new warning from top U.S. health officials about coronavirus variants. Reports...
There’s a new warning from top U.S. health officials about coronavirus variants. Reports suggest those mutations could lead to a "rapid rise" in COVID-19 cases, if Americans become complacent.
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 2:16 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 3:35 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Department of Health Services now reports the number of COVID-19 variants found in the Badger State on their COVID-19 dashboard .

DHS notes Friday that six cases of the variant strain found to be circulating in England has been discovered in Wisconsin. Researchers believe that the strain, coined Variant B.1.1.7, can spread more rapidly and easily than the original strain of COVID-19.

The department also listed variants B.1.351, which was found to be circulating in South Africa, and P.1, discovered in four Brazilian travelers who were tested in a Tokyo airport.

Neither of these variant strains have been reported in Wisconsin, so far. Researchers believe both of these strains can spread more rapidly and easily, but Variant P.1 has unique mutations that may affect the ability of COVID-19 antibodies to recognize and fight off the virus.

DHS explained that 6,339 specimen have been sequenced by Wisconsin laboratories to identify variant cases. This sequencing is done on a proportion of positive COVID-19 test specimen, but DHS did not specify what that proportion was or why a test would be chosen.

SARS-CoV-2: Total Number SequencedVariant B.1.1.7Variant B.1.351Variant P.1
6,339600

Public Health Madison and Dane County reported the first case of the UK variant in the county on Thursday, noting that the individual who tested positive has had no recent travel history outside of the county.

The first case of the UK variant in Wisconsin was discovered in January. DHS reported that it was found in Eau Claire. The UK variant has also been found in Milwaukee, TMJ4 reports.

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