U.K. variant of COVID-19 identified in R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Health announced the U.K. variant of COVID-19 (B.1.1.7), which is more contagious, has been identified in three samples.

RIDOH says one patient was in their 60s, another in their 50s, and one patient in their 20s; one person is from Providence County and two from Newport County.

The U.K. variant is more contagious, but not deadlier than the form of COVID that’s been in the U.S. since last year.

According to Dr. Jim McDonald, medical director for the department of health, based on the number of COVID cases in the state declining, it appears the U.K. variant is not widely spread in the state.

Dr. McDonald added that the vaccines and COVID treatments in use now are effective against the U.K. variant.

The samples from Rhode Island underwent sequencing as part of the RIDOH’s COVID-19 genomic surveillance plan, and are still under investigation.

According to McDonald, having a high-quality mask, double masking, being in ventilated areas, and social distancing will help reduce the risk of catching the U.K. variant or any other form of COVID.

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2021

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News