Michigan health officials confirmed the first case of the South African coronavirus variant in a Jackson County child, reports say. Officials did not reveal the child’s name, nor age, and did not reveal how he may have contracted the illness.
The state health department said Monday that an investigation was underway to identify the boy’s close contacts and potentially detect additional cases, according to the Associated Press.
“We are concerned about the discovery of another variant in Michigan, although it was not unexpected,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, said in a statement. “We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn.”
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While the South African variant, identified as B.1.351, is not believed to be any more deadly or cause more severe illness than the other types of coronavirus, it has shown to impact vaccine efficacy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detected 81 cases of the B.1.351 variant in the U.S., while also tallying 3,037 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the U.K. late last year.
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Officials, namely Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC’s Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have repeatedly called for Americans to get their vaccine when eligible to tamp down the amount of virus in the community, which would diminish the opportunity for new variants to emerge.