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Officials: More contagious virus variant found in Indiana

January 12, 2021 GMT

A more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom late last year has been found in Indiana, state health officials announced Monday.

The Indiana State Department of Health said the variant was identified in the state through testing by the state agency’s laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Monday’s announcement included no additional information on its discovery in Indiana.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box said in a statement that the variant “does not cause more severe infections, but it is much more easily spread.”

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Box added that because the new variant “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.”

The variant first detected in the U.K. has been found previously in several U.S. states, including New York, Florida and California, and several cases have been reported in those states.

Megan Wade-Taxter, a spokeswoman for Indiana’s health department, said in response to a request from The Associated Press seeking information on what Indiana county or counties the variant had been found in, and how many cases of the variant had been confirmed in the state, that “due to privacy laws, we are unable to provide any specifics about cases.”

The state health department also reported Monday that 3,726 more coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Indiana and that more 30 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19.

The new deaths, which occurred between Thursday and Sunday, raise Indiana’s pandemic death toll to 9,016, including both confirmed and presumed infections.