ST. LOUIS — The fast-spreading U.K. variant of the coronavirus has been found in wastewater samples taken from areas across Missouri according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
But the department added that the U.K. variant was not highly prevalent in the wastewater samples. Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the state health department, said this discovery makes it clear that the variant is more widespread in Missouri and across the country than what has been detected by testing.
So far, there has been only one confirmed case of the U.K. variant of the coronavirus in Missouri. That was found in Marion County in northeast Missouri on February 6.
Health officials have said contact tracing has not associated that case with any other cases. However, state officials have found the variant in various locations throughout Missouri based on continued wastewater surveillance.
The most recent CDC data reveals that there are now more than 1,500 cases of the U.K. variant in 32 states including Missouri. Health experts say the U.K. variant spreads more easily than other COVID-19 variants. It could be associated with an increased risk of death but more research is needed.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the variant was detected in more than 13 wastewater systems throughout Missouri.
At this point, officials have not revealed if any of the discoveries were made from wastewater systems in the St. Louis area.
St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page will hold a briefing Monday on the state of the coronavirus in the area. That gets underway at 8:30 a.m.