DHEC: SC’s first case of United Kingdom COVID variant found in Lowcountry

More than 20 states have reported cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus as of Friday.
More than 20 states have reported cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus as of Friday.(Houston Dept. of Health via CNN)
Updated: Jan. 30, 2021 at 11:10 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the have detected one case associated with the SARS-CoV-2 variant that first emerged in the United Kingdom.

DHEC says the case regards an adult from the Lowcounty region and they are known to have an international travel history.

DHEC says variants are closely monitored for their ability to spread faster or cause more disease and public health officials say they were notified late Friday that a South Carolina sample was determined to be the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

DHEC says experts agree that existing vaccines work to protect us from this variant, even if we don’t know just how effective they are. At this time, they say there’s no conclusive evidence to prove that this variant causes more severe illness.

“The arrival of the second SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is a yet another important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” DHEC Interim Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still very limited. We must all remain dedicated to the fight by doing the right things to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

The United Kingdom variant has been identified in many countries and in 30 states with 434 total cases having been reported in the US as of 7 p.m. Friday, DHEC says.

Earlier this week, DHEC announced that two cases of a variant first discovered in South Africa had been reported in South Carolina.

The three significant variants being spread in the world currently, originally from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, emerged independently from each other and have different characteristics, DHEC says.

“We know that viruses mutate to live and live to mutate,” Dr. Traxler said. “That’s why it’s critical that we vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible and each of us do our part by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, avoiding crowds, washing our hands, getting tested often, and when it’s our time, getting vaccinated. Science tells us that these actions work to prevent the spread of the virus, no matter the strain.”

DHEC, in coordination with the CDC, says they will continue to watch out for COVID-19 variants. Public health officials say they will provide more information as it becomes available.

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