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North Dakota officials say virus trend headed the wrong way

April 14, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota health officials say the number of confirmed variant cases of the coronavirus has doubled this month and are warning about the possibility of another wave of infections.

The state lab has identified 79 total cases of four variants, said Kirby Kruger, director of the Health Department’s Disease Control Division. The includes 50 of the one first identified in the United Kingdom, 28 of the two California variants and one of the South African variant.

Total active cases of COVID-19 have nearly doubled in North Dakota and Kruger cites variants as a key factor, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

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“We do know that the U.K. variant is about 50% more infectious than the wild type virus, and we also know that the California variants are more infectious -- they’re each about 20% more infectious,” he said. “And so they have an advantage over the older viruses that have been circulating in terms of their infectiousness.”

The Health Department on Wednesday reported 177 new COVID-19 cases, raising the pandemic total to 105,215. One new death was reported, increasing the total to 1,474.

Kruger said the possibility of another pandemic wave like those being seen in Minnesota and other states can’t be ruled out.

“Our trend is not the right way in North Dakota,” he said, adding that “I think it’s just premature to think this is over with in North Dakota.”