New, more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus have been found in four patients in the District, city health officials have confirmed.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the city’s health director, said at a news conference Thursday that city officials were told of the variants’ presence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three patients had a variant first found in the United Kingdom, while another had a variant first found in South Africa, Nesbitt said.

The health director did not specify whether the patients had traveled recently or had been hospitalized, saying that information about the cases was still being gathered, WRC-TV reported.

Studies have shown the newer variants to be more transmissible but no more potent than the initial strain.

Variants of the virus also have been detected recently in neighboring Maryland and Virginia, and Nesbitt said there are likely even more instances of the variants in the city.

“This is not surprising to D.C. Health but just another reminder to be cautious of our behavior,” she said, WRC reported.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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