South African COVID-19 Variant Reported in South Carolina

The first two cases of B.1.351, the South African COVID-19 variant in the US have been detected in South Carolina.

“This is important information for South Carolinians to have, but it isn’t a reason for panic,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster when the CDC reported the cases.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said both of the patients reportedly had no history of travel to countries where the variant has been confirmed and have no connection with one another.

DHEC said one was from the Lowcountry and the other from the Pee Dee region of the state.

Dr. Brannon Traxler DHEC Interim Public Health Director said the patients have been tested this month but only sequenced the strain recently.

Both of the patients are still considered contagious and are undergoing quarantine procedures.

“That’s frightening. It’s probably more widespread,” said Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical University of South Carolina.

DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory announced that will still continue to conduct sampling to identify any other changes in the virus and said they are not sure B.1.351 variant causes more severe illness.

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