UC Berkeley students test positive for more infectious COVID variant

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – UC Berkeley confirms two students have tested positive for the more contagious strain of coronavirus first detected in the UK.

In a statement Thursday, officials said there is no indication that the two students had been on the Berkeley campus, except for testing.

The announcement comes two days after Alameda County reported 6 new or suspected cases of this new variant called B.1.1.7, including one of the two cases at UC Berkeley.

“It is unfortunately no surprise that this and other variants are being detected locally, given the extent of viral spread happening currently regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Anna Harte, medical director at University Health Services (UHS). “With more viruses circulating, emerging strains that are more transmissible will tend to dominate. What is more concerning is whether they may become resistant to our vaccines, and how lethal they are. The more efficiently we can contain the spread, the better chance we have of nipping this in the bud.”

UC Berkeley said the campus is experiencing a spike in the number of students with COVID-19.

An advisory was issued over the weekend asking all students to self-sequester in their rooms as much as possible and to wear a face mask whenever in common areas of their dormitory floors.

Both the UK and Brazil coronavirus variants have already been detected in the Bay Area.

UC Berkeley had started giving out COVID-19 vaccines in January.

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