10 new cases of South African COVID variant identified in long-term care facilities, MSDH says

The cases were identified in fully vaccinated residents.
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Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 11:32 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting new cases of a COVID variant in two long-term care facilities in Mississippi.

MSDH has identified ten additional cases of the more infectious South African origin B.1.351 variant strain in fully vaccinated residents, making 12 cases.

The agency found the new cases after identifying outbreaks in Bedford Care, in Monroe Hall in Forrest County, and Landmark Care of Collins in Covington County.

The South African variant cases associated with these outbreaks were breakthrough cases in older, vaccinated individuals in long-term care facilities.

Health officials found the first South African COVID variant back in March.

The majority of the new cases had minimal to no symptoms, MSDH says, but two required hospitalization and one person died.

“Although one death is extremely unfortunate, the fact that most of these cases have had minimal to no symptoms in highly vulnerable individuals is extremely encouraging,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “The vaccines currently available provide excellent protection against severe disease. While these illnesses are caused by variant strains, the outcomes of all these cases would likely be much more severe if they were not vaccinated.”

The MSDH has also identified three cases of B.1.617.2 Indian origin variants in Claiborne, Smith, and Hinds counties outside of long-term care settings. The investigation is ongoing, but at least two are directly associated with travelers from India and Nepal.

MSDH is still investigating variant strains but still encourages vaccinations to reduce the risk of transmission of any virus in a long-term care setting.

“It’s vitally important that all healthcare and long-term care facility staff get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Dr. Byers. “We need to protect our most vulnerable populations.”

As of May 21, MSDH says 554 cases of several COVID-19 variants have been reported in Mississippi.

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