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Arizona sees first case of COVID-19 variant strain that was first detected in South Africa

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PHOENIX (KVOA) - The B.1.531 COVID-19 variant strain that was first detected in South Africa has been detected in Arizona after health officials reported that it has seen two positive test samples on Friday.

The B.1.351 variant was first detected in the United States Jan. 28 when two cases were discovered in South Carolina. Officials say since that first discovery, health experts learned that this SARS-CoV-2 variant spreads at a faster rate compared to the original strain.

At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the authorized vaccines appear to be effective against this strain.

Officials with Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Translational Genomics Research Institute confirmed the two positive cases on Friday.

At this time, residents are advised to increase COVID-19 precautions, such as "wearing masks, keeping 6 feet of distance from those who aren’t members of their households, washing hands frequently, and staying home when sick." They are also advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

This discovery was announced on the heels of the University of Arizona reporting at least one positive case of the B.1.1.7 variant on its campus. Positive cases of this variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom in 2020, was first reported in Arizona in February.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this SARS-CoV-2 variant, which spreads at a faster rate, was first detected in the U.S. at the end of January. The CDC has advised that currently authorized vaccines so far appear effective against this variant. 

To register for a vaccine appointment, visit or, or call 1-844-542-8201.

To learn more about COVID-19, please visit

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Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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