The newest variant, referred to as B.1.351, was first discovered to be circulating in South Africa in samples dating back to October 2020.
Researchers have found that this new strain, spreads more rapidly and easily than the original strain of COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. It is not yet known if this variant has any impact on disease severity.
The state also reports 26 total cases of the UK variant, which was discovered in Wisconsin on Jan. 12.
“It is important to remember that new variants are expected to occur over time. Here in Wisconsin, whole genome sequencing of positive specimens from COVID-19 cases is done on a regular basis, said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said in a news release. “Because these variants may spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, mask wearing, staying home, physically distancing, and washing your hands continues to be crucial.”
Experts with UW Health said COVID-19 is like any other virus: it wants to spread.