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BOISE — The first case of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 has been identified in Idaho, in an Ada County woman, Central District Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported Wednesday.

This follows the first infection with the South African variant in Idaho, reported last week in a southwestern Idaho man. The health department declined to give more specific details about his city or county of residence. The state is now investigating a second case of that variant.

The Ada County woman confirmed to be infected with the U.K. (B.1.1.7) variant of the novel coronavirus had traveled out of state earlier this month, and it is believed that she was exposed during her travels, according to health officials.

Central District Health epidemiologists will identify the woman’s close contacts who were possibly exposed. If other people are found to have possibly been exposed, health officials will provide guidance to them and will monitor them for symptoms.

The U.K. variant is known to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. This variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of December. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 1,881 cases of the U.K. variant among 45 states.

“As we work to offer vaccine to more Idahoans and learn more about how these variants behave, our best defense is to stay consistent with our health and safety measures. We know that the choices we’ve made in the last year to wear a face covering, keep our distance from others, wash our hands frequently, and stay home when we’re sick will serve us well in helping to protect us from these potentially more severe variants,” Kimberly Link, communicable disease control manager with Central District Health, said in a statement.

The health district on Feb. 17 reported the presence of the U.K. variant in wastewater samples submitted from the Boise area in late January. The tested wastewater samples also detected the presence of the California variant; however, this variant is not currently receiving national surveillance.

For Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus, visit coronavirus.idaho.gov.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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