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State health officials confirm first case of new COVID-19 strain in Mississippi

The Mississippi State Department of Health announced Monday that the first case of a COVID-19 variant strain in a Mississippi resident had been confirmed.

A case of the B.1.1.7 UK variant strain of COVID-19 was confirmed during routine testing, according to a release from the MSDH. No international travel or spread to contacts is known to have occurred, but additional investigation is ongoing.

“The B.1.1.7 variant strain has been identified in 40 U.S. states and is known to spread more easily and quickly than other strains. While suspected, currently there is no direct evidence that this strain causes a more severe infection or a higher risk of death,” the agency said in its release. “MSDH continues to expand surveillance for variant strains in Mississippi, and it is likely that additional cases will be identified. Current available vaccines are expected to be effective against variant strains, but further research continues.”

State health officials did not report where the case of the variant strain was reported.