MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health says that the COVID-19 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom has reached Minnesota.
The results were confirmed Saturday. The cases ranged in age from 15 to 37 years old, and their illness onsets ranged from Dec. 15 through New Year’s Eve. None of the cases required hospitalization, the health department reported.
The U.K. variant has been reported to be more contagious, more easily spread from person to person. However, health officials reiterated that it is not believed to be more serious. It is also not, at this point, shown to be resistant to the COVID vaccines currently in distribution.
“It’s important to note that this variant strain of the virus has been found in other states in the U.S., so we were expecting to find the virus in Minnesota. Knowing that it is now here does not change our current public health recommendations,” said State Epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield.
In all, five cases were detected in Minnesota, all within the Twin Cities metro area. Two reported international travel, one reported having not traveled at all, and the other two have an unknown travel history.
“This virus makes it really hard for people to know whether they or the person next to them is infected – whether this strain or another strain – so we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and each other,” Ehresmann said.
According to the CDC, 63 cases of this UK variant strain have been identified in 8 states as of Jan. 8.
“Whether this new strain infects more people will be determined to a large degree by how rigorously we all practice those protective measures that are so important,” Lynfield said. “Getting as many people vaccinated as possible will also be critical in the control of spread of this variant and the emergence of other variants.”
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