U.K. COVID-19 variant identified in Rhode Island

U.K. COVID-19 variant identified in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Health has announced that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 has been identified in samples from three Rhode Island patients. The variant was identified in these samples on Monday, Feb. 15. One patient was in their 60s, one patient was in their 50s, and one patient was in their 20s, according to RIDOH.

The samples underwent sequencing as part of RIDOH’s COVID-19 genomic surveillance plan, and the cases are still under investigation. The sequencing was performed by the Broad Institute, in collaboration with RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories. The sequencing work is supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The B.1.1.7 variant was originally identified in the United Kingdom and is considered more contagious than the strain that has been predominant in Rhode Island through the pandemic. RIDOH said all Rhode Islanders are urged to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands regularly.