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Highly contagious UK strain now most common strain in US as cases jump

WASHINGTON: The highly contagious variant of Covid-19 first discovered in Britain has become the most common strain of the virus in the United States as cases continue to climb, a top US health official said on Wednesday.

The strain, known as B117, was identified in Britain last fall and has since been detected in 52 jurisdictions in America, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing.

US public health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible in part to prevent new variants from spreading.

SOUTH AFRICAN STRAIN

The US has also detected cases of a variant first discovered in South Africa that is thought to be resistant to some Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.

That strain has been found in 36 jurisdictions, according to federal data last updated on Tuesday.

The US has been administering about three million Covid-19 vaccine doses per day on average over the past week, up 8 per cent over the previous seven-day average, Dr Walensky said.

Still, daily US cases are averaging 63,000 over the past seven days, up 2.3 per cent from the previous seven-day average, Dr Walensky said.

Dr Walensky added that the CDC has identified a number of outbreaks tied to youth sporting events, and that communities experiencing high case counts should avoid holding such events.

Testing should also happen twice a week, she said. - REUTERS

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