Reno area confirms 1st case of variant that originated in UK

·2 min read

RENO, Nev. — Health officials have confirmed the first northern Nevada case of a COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom, and they are trying to determine if the infection linked to a large gathering in Washoe County may have spread to others.

At least eight cases related to the variant have already been confirmed in southern Nevada. The first was in the Las Vegas area in late January.

The new case confirmed in Washoe County, which includes Reno and Sparks, involves a woman in her 30s whose infection is linked to a gathering of more than 60 people from multiple states, county health district officer Kevin Dick announced late Friday.

Seventeen additional COVID-19 cases have been linked to the same event, although not all of the people who have tested positive are from Washoe County and it’s not yet known whether they are infected with the variant, Dick said.

Additional genomic sequencing is underway, but many specimens are not available for genomic sequencing, he said.

“This is a stark reminder that we are not out of the woods with COVID-19,” Dick said in a statement Friday. “We suspected that this variant which originated in the UK was present in Washoe County weeks ago but it’s now confirmed.”

“We are recommending that people not attend large gatherings, and follow our guidance and the governor’s directives because we have seen how quickly the virus can spread,” he said.

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory confirmed the new variant in Washoe County, Dick said.

Nevada’s first case of another COVID-19 variant that originated in South Africa was confirmed in Washoe County in mid-February.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant that originated in the variant is “associated with increased transmissibility (i.e., more efficient and rapid transmission, including an increased risk of death compared to other variants).”

The state on Saturday reported 442 additional COVID-19 cases and 20 more deaths, raising the state's pandemic totals to 299,065 cases and 5,117 deaths.

The additional deaths statewide raised the total in Clark County, which includes metro Las Vegas, above 4,000.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Scott Sonner, The Associated Press