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COVID variant reported in Missouri

By The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The first case in the state of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus has been recorded in northeast Missouri, state health officials said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement Saturday that the variant of the virus that was first identified last fall in the United Kingdom had been confirmed in a person who lives in Marion County, which is just northwest of St. Louis near the Mississippi River.

This variant of the virus, which is believed to spread faster than the original coronavirus, has already been found in at least 33 states. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that more than 600 cases of this United Kingdom variant of the virus have been documented in the United States.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the CDC has said this variant does not appear to respond differently to vaccines or cause any more severe cases of COVID-19.

Missouri Health Director Randall Williams said state officials are working closely with the public health department in Marion County to ensure that proper quarantine and contact tracing protocols are being followed in connection with this case.

Viruses constantly mutate, and coronavirus variants are circulating around the globe, but scientists are primarily concerned with the emergence of three that researchers believe may spread more easily. Other variants first reported in South Africa and Brazil have also been confirmed in the U.S.