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More contagious strain of COVID-19 detected in Louisiana

The coronavirus vaccine is still primarily available for first line workers and those 70 and...
The coronavirus vaccine is still primarily available for first line workers and those 70 and older.(cdc)
Updated: Jan. 18, 2021 at 4:55 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A local infectious diseases expert says he’s concerned a more contagious strain of Covid-19 has been detected in Louisiana. Fred Lopez, M.D., with LSU Health, says that’s because it comes at a time when Louisiana is already seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Over the weekend, the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed the state’s first identified case of the more contagious strain. It’s known as the U.K. variant because it’s prevalent in the United Kingdom. The state says it was detected in an individual from the Greater New Orleans area. Health officials say while the particular viral strain is more contagious, it has not been shown to cause more severe illness. And, experts believe the current Covid-19 vaccines are effective against it.

More: LDH confirms first case of U.K. COVID variant in Louisiana

“If this becomes the predominant strain by March of 2021 as predicted by the CDC modeling studies, we could see a surge on top of the current surge of cases,” said Lopez.

The state says because the U.K. variant is more contagious,it is more important than ever that everyone practice mitigation measures, like mask wearing, distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick. They also say you should get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re eligible.

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The Louisiana Department of Health says the person who tested positive for the Covid-19 variant has a reported history of travel outside of the state. But, health officials say the strain has been detected in at least 15 other states and is likely circulating in Louisiana as well.

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