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A newer coronavirus strain, said to be more contagious, was reported in the Austin-Travis County area by the state health department.

Lab-tested by a private local testing organization, the Texas Department of State Health Services and Austin Public Health report it is the first confirmed case of the UK variant of the virus in Austin. However, officials say it is possible this variant has been in the community longer.


"While it is concerning that there is a confirmed COVID-19 variant in Austin-Travis County, it does not come as a surprise," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "It is important to remember that these COVID-19 variants spread the same way, and so it is important to continue the prevention measures we have been using for almost a year. People need to keep wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, and washing your hands frequently."

Vaccines already being distributed to the public are expected to be effective against the new strain.

Extensive lab testing is required for APH to determine different strains under the coronavirus umbrella, according to APH.

Just last month, a Harris County man was reported to have contracted the variant, despite no recent history of travel.

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