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More contagious version of COVID-19 confirmed in Ill. for first time

The COVID-19 virus, like other viruses, constantly changes through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time, health officials say.
A new variant strain of the COVID-19 virus is now identified.
A new variant strain of the COVID-19 virus is now identified.(Aspirus Wausau Hospital)
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 12:56 PM CST
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Health officials today announced the first case in Illinois of the more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

The case was identified by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. This new strain does not cause more severe symptoms, but it is more easily spread, officials say. Data suggest current vaccines will be effective and safe in providing protection against the variant.

“This news isn’t surprising and doesn’t change our guidance around COVID-19. We must double down on the recommended safety strategies we know help stop the spread of this virus,” said Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

The person infected had recently traveled to the United Kingdom and the Middle East, officials said. Tracers have begun looking at the patient’s contacts. Officials did not say where the person lives, but the Chicago Department of Public Health is investigating the case, which would indicate the patient lives in the city.

The COVID-19 virus, like other viruses, constantly changes through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time, health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control earlier this week announced that all international passengers headed to the United States will first need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test, effective on Jan. 26. The new policy requires all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, to get a test for current infection within the three days before their flight to the United States departs, and to provide written documentation of their test results or proof of having recovered from COVID-19.

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