MDH: 1st case of South African COVID-19 variant found in Minnesota

A new COVID-19 variant has been detected in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the variant strain first found in South Africa was documented in the state on Wednesday.

A total of 91 other cases of the variant have been found in 21 other states, according to MDH. It’s also been found in 48 countries.

The variant is believed to be more transmissible than the initial strain of COVID-19 although it’s still unclear if it causes more severe illness.

KSTP’s latest COVID-19 coverage

The person who fell ill with the variant is a metro-area resident in their 40s, MDH said. An investigation is still ongoing.

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the finding shows the importance of continuing to follow health guidelines to limit the virus’s spread.

"The virus continues to mutate as all viruses do," Malcolm said. "That’s yet another reason why we want to limit COVID-19 transmission – the fewer people who get COVID-19, the fewer opportunities the virus has to mutate. The good news is that we can slow that process by wearing masks, keeping social distance, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate."