COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa found in King County

A variant of COVID-19 that was initially detected in South Africa has made its way to King County, state health officials announced Tuesday.

The variant was detected Monday through genomic sequencing at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory. The patient originally tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 29, 2021.

Other details about the case, including any travel history, aren’t available as the patient couldn’t be reached through contact tracing.

“The detection of these COVID-19 variants in our state reminds us that this pandemic is not over. Despite the decrease in our case count, we are very concerned about the emergence of these variants and how it will affect future case counts,” said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH.

This strain of COVID-19, originally identified in South Africa in December, is not known to cause more severe disease and it isn’t clear whether it spreads for rapidly than other strains.