Officials: 8 cases of more-contagious UK Covid variant confirmed in Cook County, including Chicago

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CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Public Health said multiple cases of a more-contagious variant of COVID-19 have been identified in the state Monday.

Officials said the variant which was originally identified in the U.K. was first discovered in Chicago around January 15. But as of Monday, the IDPH said they have now identified nine total cases in the state based on tests from December 29 – January 15.

The nine cases range in age from 12 to 63 years and all live in Cook County, including Chicago, officials said. While the new variant is believed to be more transmissible, experts say it is unclear if it causes more severe symptoms our outcomes.

“With reports of this variant already in many states in the U.S., we anticipated its spread here in Illinois,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.  “Early studies have found that this variant spreads more easily than what we have seen with the current prevailing variant.”

While the strain may be relatively new to the area, health officials said their recommendations are the same when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We expected to see more cases of this variant crop up, and people should know that the best way to protect themselves is continue wearing a mask, washing hands often, staying six feet away from others and getting vaccinated when it is your turn,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

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