Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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UK variant found on Navajo

Graphic courtesy of CDC

This illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).



The first case of the B117, or United Kingdom, variant of COVID-19 has been identified on the Navajo Nation, President Jonathan Nez announced today during his virtual town hall.

The patient, who is recovering at home after several days in the hospital, is an elderly person from Western Agency, Nez revealed.

The person was fully vaccinated and doctors believe the vaccine protected them from more serious symptoms. Dr. Laura Hammit of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health said the existing vaccines do provide good protection from the variants and the existing treatments are effective against them.

Nez said the patient was quickly isolated and does not appear to have transmitted the virus to anyone so far.

The variant was found in a random sampling of COVID-19 tests from around the Navajo Nation that were tested for the three new variants of the virus. Not every sample is tested, so it’s quite possible there are more cases of the new variants as well.

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Nez noted the UK variant has been found in all 50 states, and currently one out of four positive tests nationwide that is tested for the variants has turned up positive for the UK variant.

The Brazilian variant has been detected in Utah and Colorado and the South African variant has been seen in Utah and Colorado.

Nez said it’s as important as ever wear a mask, stay away from crowds and wash hands, especially since the Navajo Nation Council recently passed legislation lifting the ban on visitors coming into the Nation.

Dr. Jill Jim, director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health, said the Health Command Operations Center and Epidemiology Center will continue monitoring the situation on Navajo including tracking the variants.

About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth was the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation, until her retirement on May 31, 2021. Her other beats included agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.”


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