MADISON, Wis. (WTVO) — A new, variant strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, first identified in the U.K., has been discovered in Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services said Wednesday.
Researchers believe the new strain spreads more rapidly than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, but say there is no evidence the new strain causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
“We already know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, and with this new variant appearing to be even more infectious, taking preventative measures like wearing a mask and physically distancing are even more important,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm.
The variant strain was identified through genome sequencing of the virus, health officials said.
“Mutations among viruses are very common. It’s not unusual – in fact, it’s expected. As time goes on in the pandemic and the virus continues to replicate on a large scale, the genetic sequence of the virus will change,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.
Experts recommend wearing a mask, staying home, maintaining physical distance, and washing hands frequently to slow the transmission of the disease.
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