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More contagious UK COVID-19 variant detected in Spokane County

The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom and is known to spread more easily and quickly than others.
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SPOKANE, Wash. — The B.1.1.7 strain of COVID-19 was detected in a sample originating from Spokane County, health officials announced on Friday. 

The coronavirus variant was first identified in the United Kingdom and is known to spread more easily and quickly than others, which could lead to more COVID-19 cases. It was first detected in the United States at the end of December 2020. 

The Washington State Department of Health notified Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) about one case of the variant discovered through genome sequencing, according to a press release from SRHD. 

“Finding variants in our community does not change how we respond,” Dr. Francisco Velazquez, Spokane County Interim Health Officer, said. “It does reinforce the need for everyone in our county to be diligent in following the health measures. Wear a mask, wash your hands, physically distance, and avoid large gatherings where distancing isn’t possible.” 

Velazquez also stressed the importance of following public health guidance, testing when someone is exposed or having COVID-19 symptoms and getting vaccinated when eligible to curb virus transmission. 

 SRHD said in a press release that COVID-19 vaccines currently available "should provide good protection" against the UK variant.

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