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UK's Johnson warns of more lockdown measures as virus soars variants
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Utah officials watch for COVID-19 variants, say UK strain not dominant yet

FILE - In this Wednesday Dec. 30, 2020 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in 10 Downing Street, London. Johnson has warned that more onerous lockdown restrictions in England are likely as the country reels from a new variant of the coronavirus that has seen infection rates soar to their highest recorded levels. Thus far, while the variant has been found in the US, it is not yet pervasive or dominant. (Heathcliff O'Malley/Pool via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials with Intermountain Healthcare are working to track the impact of COVID-19 variants that are being identified in Utah and across the world.

Because massive community-wide surveillance isn’t available, they’re busy monitoring reinfection and failure rates.

The Utah Department of Health on Jan. 15 confirmed the state’s first case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, also referred to as the UK variant, which the British government linked to a higher risk of death than other versions of the virus, according to The New York Times.

Dr. Brandon Webb, Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician, said the best way for Utah to protect against any variant strains is to continue rolling out vaccines as quickly as possible.

“We’re actually watching for signs and signals that we may be having variants in the community, like possible reinfection rates or failure rates,” Webb said. “At least at this point, we’re not seeing strong signals that we have a dominating strain here in the state, but we’re continuing to watch really carefully.”

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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