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UK COVID-19 variant strain detected in Indiana

ISDH reported the new strain Monday.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Health announced Monday a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Indiana. It's the same variant as the strain identified in the United Kingdom last fall.

The strain was identified through ISDH and CDC testing labs. It's not believed to cause more severe symptoms, but it is more easily spread.

"It's common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19," said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. "Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it's more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible."

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ISDH did not share more specific details about where the person infected with the new strain lives.

Dr. Paul Calkins, associate chief Mmedical executive at IU Health, said it’s unlikely to be a one-off case.

“I don’t think there is any doubt,” said Calkins. “My guess is that we would probably find it repeatedly if we looked for it.”

Monday, Indiana reported 3,726 more cases of COVID-19 and 30 additional deaths.

Individuals 80 and older, in addition to health care workers and first responders, are now able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 194,000 Hoosiers have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 24,000 are fully vaccinated with both doses.

Dr. Calkins asked people to continue to follow the basics.

“Avoid gatherings, wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing. The same stuff we have been doing since the spring we just need to keep doing it,” he said.

To sign up to receive a vaccine, go to ourshot.in.gov.