KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Another variant of COVID-19 has been found in Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The department announced on Wednesday that an Ellis County resident contracted the United Kingdom variant, or B.1.1.7.
“This finding does not change our public health recommendations,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said in a news release.
In an interview with 41 Action News, Norman said the variant is a cause for concern in the sense that it’s a “highly infectious” strain of the virus that has been seen in 33 states.
“We've been taking this serious all along, but this is one more reason to take this additional news very seriously,” Norman said.
He said people should double down and ensure they are wearing masks, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings.
“As we do more and more of what's called the genomic sequence, the whole genome sequencing, I'm sure we'll find more cases like this and, and probably you know we talked about the South African variants in the Brazil variants and we've not seen those two but it was just a matter of time.”
Norman said that COVID-19 testing is more widely available in Kansas and residents shouldn’t “turn a blind eye” to it.
Additionally, 41 Action News also has received questions from viewers regarding double masking, to which Norman said one “really good mask is very good.”
“I'm not sure that two is above and beyond that, so I don't think I'd be overly concerned about that if you just do one mask really well,” he said.
An investigation is under way to determine how the individual contracted the variant and if anyone else has been exposed.
The UK variant was first reported in the states in December, according to the release, and evidence “indicates that this variant spreads much more quickly.”