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DES MOINES, IOWA — The Iowa Department of Public Health announced on Monday afternoon that three people have tested positive for a new variant of COVID-19 known as the ‘UK variant’.

According to a news release from IDPH, three cases of :”SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7.” were confirmed in Iowa. Two of the cases are Johnson County residents, an adult age 18-40 and an adult age 41-60. The third case is an adult in Bremer County. All three have been “advised to isolate” by the state and contact tracing is already underway.

IDPH warns that this variant has been show to “spread more easily than the original strain” of COVID-19. They add that the current COVID-19 vaccines are considered to be effective against the new variant.

Iowa is the 33rd state to report a case of the new variant. According to a CDC dashboard, a total of 467 cases have been reported to date, not including the Iowa cases. The name ‘UK variant’ is used because it was first reported in the United Kingdom.

As of 10:00 am Monday, a total of 319,495 Iowans have tested positive for the coronavirus; 4,906 have died from COVID-19.

State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati says the mutation of the virus was expected and the state is monitoring the spread of the new variant here and around the world. In the meantime, IDPH is encouraging the same proven mitigation efforts to avoid spreading and contracting the coronavirus: wear a face mask, socially distance yourself from others, clean your hands and stay home if you feel sick.