DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt announced Thursday that variants of the coronavirus that first surfaced in South Africa and the UK have been detected in the city’s residents.
Three cases are of the UK strain and one is of the South African strain, according to Nesbitt, who attributed the information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which notified DC.
“Every positive test is not sequenced to be detected for variants; only a sampling of cases are sequenced for variants,” Nesbitt said at a press conference.
“Making sure that I give people some context that not every one of those positive cases is sequenced either by the DC Public Health lab or sent to the CDC for sequencing. They are sampling a number of cases and so we’ve had some of the cases that have been sampled for sequencing come back as positive for this variant,” she added.
The director noted that DC Health has not been surprised at the news and that she had previously warned residents it was expected after the variants were reported in Maryland and Virginia as DC’s borders with these states are “porous.”
Nesbitt stated that this should serve as “another opportunity to remind us to be very cautious about our behavior in our patterns.”
There is no evidence that the variants are more deadly than other strains of the coronavirus. However, it is known that they are extremely transmissible.
Across the nation, more than 900 cases of the UK variant and nine cases of the South African variant have been reported so far.