Wisconsin health officials said they identified a case of the U.K. coronavirus variant through ongoing surveillance and whole-genome sequencing, but did not release information pertaining to the patient who tested positive. It marks the first such case in the state.
“We already know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, and with this new variant appearing to be even more infectious, taking preventative measures like wearing a mask and physically distancing are even more important,” Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, said in a news release on Wednesday.
The variant was detected on Tuesday at one of the labs that has partnered with the state to conduct surveillance. The press release said that molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in the state is only increasing in importance as reports of variants and mutations surface in other countries.
“Mutations among viruses are very common,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, said in the news release. “It’s not unusual – in fact, it’s expected. As time goes on in the pandemic and the virus continues to replicate on a large scale, the genetic sequences of the virus will change.”
At least 12 states have reported cases of the U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7, with over 72 instances reported. California has the most confirmed cases with 32, followed by Florida which has reported 22. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking the variant cases, but the true total is likely greater than the numbers reported.