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First case of UK COVID-19 variant confirmed in Dane County

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Public health officials have confirmed the first Dane County case of a COVID-19 variant that was was first found in the United Kingdom at the end of last year.

Public Health Madison and Dane County officials announced the presence of the variant in a press release sent Thursday afternoon.

Researchers believe the UK variant, officially called B.1.1.7, spreads more rapidly than the original strain of the disease.

"We’ve been expecting to find B.1.1.7 in Dane County, as it has appeared elsewhere in the state over the past month," said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. "While this is the first time sequencing has confirmed the strain here, we’ve been operating under the assumption that the variant is present, and that is why we continue to stress that people not let their guard down."

Health officials used the announcement to remind the public of the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

The variant was first discovered in Wisconsin last month, officials said.

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