Another reason to wear a mask and be careful in DC: UK, South African virus strains detected in nation’s capital

Two separate variants of the coronavirus, first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, have been detected in three Washington, D.C. residents, the city health department said Thursday.

Director of D.C. Health LaQuandra Nesbitt noted that not every positive test has been sequenced, only a sample, so there are likely more cases of the variants present.

“This is not surprising to D.C. Health,” Nesbitt said, noting that cases have been detected in Maryland and Virginia in recent weeks.

Nesbitt said additional details are not yet known, including whether the people infected have been informed that they have the variant.

Still, nobody’s behavior should change. Keep wearing a mask, keep physical distance, and continue avoiding large gatherings, especially indoors.

The two variants are more contagious, but experts have expressed confidence that available vaccines will be effective at least against B-117, the variant first found in the U.K.

The strain first found in South Africa could be more problematic, as drugmakers may need to develop booster shots or revamp current vaccination formulas.