The Minnesota Department of Health announced on Saturday night that it had confirmed five cases of the new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
The variant was first detected in the UK and has since been confirmed in several other US states. It has not been shown to cause more severe cases of COVID-19.
“We expected to find the virus in Minnesota. Knowing he’s now here doesn’t change our current public health recommendations, ”state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield said in a press release announcing the first confirmed cases in Minnesota.
The health department said the five cases were from four different counties in the metropolitan area, of people aged 15 to 37. Their illness began between December 16 and 31.
Health officials said they were not aware of any of the five people hospitalized. Two of the people said they traveled overseas, one did not, and the travel stories of the other two are not yet known.
“MDH epidemiologists are re-interviewing the cases to gather more information on how they were likely exposed and who their close contacts were. This investigation is continuing, ”announced the Ministry of Health.
“The fact that the variant strain is considered to be more contagious, but not more virulent, than the viral strains currently widely distributed in Minnesota reinforces the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing outside your home, and putting on in quarantine if you have been exposed. to a positive case, ”said national infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann in the press release. “This virus makes it very difficult for people to know whether they or the person next to them is infected – whether it’s this strain or another strain – so we all have to do our part to protect ourselves and ourselves. each other. ”
Ehresmann said preliminary results show current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the variant, which was first detected in the UK in September.
Four of Minnesota’s five cases were identified by genomic sequencing at the MDH public health laboratory, and the fifth was identified by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Whether this new strain infects more people will be determined to a large extent by how rigorously we practice all of these protective measures that are so important,” Lynfield said. “Vaccinating as many people as possible will also be essential in controlling the spread of this variant and the emergence of other variants.”
The CDC reported on Friday that variant cases had also been confirmed in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Colorado and California.
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