First case of South African variant identified in W.Va.

CHARLESTON — On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia has detected its first case of the South African variant of COVID-19 in Berkeley County.

“This is an extremely transmittable variant,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s in 36 states across our nation and now it’s in West Virginia.

“This is just more and more testimony that it’s not time to let our guard down,” Gov. Justice continued. “We need you to continue to step up: wear your mark, wash your hands, stay apart, and get your vaccine.”

“As we’ve said with these variant viruses—and now that we’ve found the South African variant in West Virginia as well as we’re seeing the growth of the United Kingdom variant in West Virginia—we recognize that these variants are more infectious,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We’re now seeing the spread of infection mainly in our younger population. The impact of these new variants are perhaps more severe for young people that, generally, have felt to be protected against the consequences of COVID-19.

“So we’re really focusing on trying to help these young people and their families choose to get vaccinated to protect themselves so we can protect each other,” Dr. Marsh continued. “It is really, really important that we see this population choose to be vaccinated.”