Health officials announced additional Illinois cases of coronavirus variant

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — The Chicago Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced eight additional cases of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 in Illinois.

In a news release, health officials said they “previously announced a single case of the variant in Chicago on January 15, for a total of nine cases that have now been reported in Illinois.” They continued to say those patients ranged in age from 12 to 63 years old and lived in Cook County, including Chicago.

“Specimens testing positive for the variant through genomic sequencing were collected between December 29, 2020 – January 15, 2021,” said officials.

The variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom.

“With reports of this variant already in many states in the U.S., we anticipated its spread here in Illinois,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Early students have found that this variant spreads more easily than what we have seen with the current prevailing variant. We are following closely to see if there is evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease or death. Based on the information available now, the vaccine will still be effective. Continued masking and vaccination when it is your turn remain our best path to defeating this virus as quickly and possible.”

Health officials are ramping up their surveillance of cases and other variants. “Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected. In additional to the B.1.1.7 variant, another variant, 1.351 has emerged in South Africa, and another, P.1 in Brazil.”

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