The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed a fifth case of the B.1.1.7 strain of coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of Tri-County Health Department)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed a fifth case of the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 and will include variant case totals in the case summary on its COVID-19 data dashboard, according to a news release.

Scientists believe the mutant strain is more contagious than the SARS-CoV-2 variant more commonly seen in the United States and abroad.

The health department said it plans to update the dashboard’s information every day at about 4 p.m., and that the new information will help Coloradans keep a closer watch on coronavirus transmission.

“Our state lab was the first in the country to identify a B 1.1.7 variant case through sophisticated analysis of testing samples,” Scott Bookman, incident commander COVID-19 response, said. “Scientists believe this variant is far more contagious, so I’m pleased we are adding this information to our website to help keep Coloradans informed of disease transmission trends in our state.” 

All samples submitted to the state lab are being tested for the genetic profile associated with the B.1.1.7 variant, the release said. The state department, which is doing about 5-10% of the state’s testing, has asked other Colorado labs to send groupings of their positive tests to the state lab so they can also be tested for the more infectious strain.

The Colorado lab confirmed the first U.S. case of the variant in December. The most recent case, discovered by a private lab and confirmed by the state, is “an individual from Boulder County in their 20s,” officials said.

The health department said B.1.1.7 symptoms are no more severe than the SARS-CoV-2 strain, and that adherence to public health protocols should be just as effective in slowing its spread.


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