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L.A. County Confirms Second Case Of COVID-19 UK Variant

(Courtesy LAC+USC Medical Center)
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L.A. County has confirmed the second local case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant that was first discovered in the U.K.

The first case of the variant was found in Southern California at the end of December. In L.A. County, the first case was confirmed on Jan. 16.

Health officials say they believe that variant, and others, are already spreading in the county.

The new strain — B.1.1.7 — has an "unusually large number of mutations," according to the county's public health department. Despite being more contagious than the strain that first emerged in California last January, there's still no evidence that the illness it causes is any more severe.

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The first person to test positive for the U.K. mutation in L.A. County traveled to Oregon and is currently isolating there.

COVID-19 variants have also emerged in Brazil and South Africa.

Health experts have been quick to reassure the public that virus mutations are normal, however it’s not clear how well the U.S. will be able to respond to a rapidly spreading variant.