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First detected in South Africa, COVID-19 variant found in Colorado

B.1.351 is a variant of concern because it spreads more easily and quickly than others, and vaccines may be less effective, Colorado's Joint Information Center said.

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — Three cases of the COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa have been found in Colorado, the state's Joint Information Center (JIC) said in a news release Sunday night.

This is the first detection of B.1.351 in Colorado, but 68 cases have been identified across 17 jurisdictions in the U.S, the JIC said.

The three cases were found in two staff members and one inmate at the Colorado Department of Corrections Buena Vista Correctional Complex (BVCC), the JIC said. Samples from the correctional facility were chosen at random for sequencing as part of ongoing variant surveillance analysis.

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) laboratory will test all positive specimens from this facility to look for variants, the JIC said.  Anyone exposed at BVCC will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine. CDPHE is actively investigating an outbreak at this facility.

Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating around the world, the JIC said. Originally detected in early October 2020 in South Africa, B.1.351 is a variant of concern because it spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, and vaccines may be less effective against this variant.

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