KDHE finds eight more cases of U.K. variant in Sedgwick County

    Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19 The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

    TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Monday announced eight individuals living in a single house in Sedgwick County have tested positive for the U.K. variant of COVID-19.

    KDHE determined the individuals had the U.K. variant, also known as B.1.1.7, through genome sequencing at agency labs. Two other Kansans, in Sedgwick and Ellis counties, were confirmed to have the variant in February. KDHE said those first two individuals were exposed to the variant while traveling out of state. An investigation is being conducted into the new cases.

    “We continue to encourage people to take the appropriate precautions. This includes wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose and face and has multiple layers of fabric or layering thinner masks with an additional cloth face mask to improve the fit,” said Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary. “Kansans should also follow isolation and quarantine recommendations, practice physical distancing, good hygiene, staying home if ill and getting the vaccine if you are able to, once the supply is sufficient.”

    Testing is available and free for all Kansans by going to www.gogettested.com/kansas.

    “This finding also shows the importance of getting tested for COVID-19,” said Adrienne Byrne, Sedgwick County health director.

    The number of new COVID-19 cases has declined significantly with the rollout of vaccines, but the U.K. variant is considered to be a more infectious mutation of the deadly disease, capable of spreading quickly enough to produce a surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

    On Monday, KDHE said 639 new cases, 8 deaths and 41 hospitalizations had been recorded over the weekend. Since the start of the pandemic, the virus has killed 4,743 Kansans. More than 294,000 have tested positive for COVID-19.