U.K. strain of COVID-19 identified on FHSU campus

BY JUSTIN SABATA

A positive case of the U.K. strain of COVID-19 has been discovered in Hays on FHSU’s campus.

In an email sent to students and staff of FHSU, University Chief Communications Officer Scott Cason informed recipients of the new case.

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment informed us last evening they have identified a positive case for the UK variant of the virus in one of our student-athletes,” the email said.

Cason also reported that the KDHE will arrive in Hays Thursday in order to determine close contacts.

“KDHE is dispatching their mobile testing lab today, and it will be on campus tomorrow to begin contact tracing, testing, and identifying cases for appropriate next steps, including quarantine and isolation.”

About 90 minutes later, FHSU and the Ellis County Health Department released a joint statement also confirming the new case.

“A Fort Hays State University student-athlete who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus as part of the university’s weekly student athlete testing program, has been identified through whole genome sequencing as positive for the UK variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).”

The joint statement went into more detail about the mobile lab that will soon be deployed on campus. 

“KDHE will conduct on-site testing that will yield positive or negative results within four hours. They will also collect samples that will be sent to the state lab for whole-genome sequencing analysis to identify potential COVID-19 variants,” the statement said. 

Found in the United Kingdom late last year, the mutated virus has since been detected in over 30 U.S. states. One of the key differences in this strain of COVID, according to the CDC, is this virus is more contagious and possibly more deadly. Although, more research is needed to affirm its lethality. 

The precautions for the UK variant of the coronavirus are still the same as its predecessor. 

Since the pandemic began in March last year, medical organizations around the world have encouraged the public to practice the following safety methods; washing your hands, wearing a face covering, using social distancing, staying at home if not feeling well, and following proper isolation guidelines if in close contact with an infected person.

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