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Navajo Nation confirms first case of COVID-19 variant

This April 23, 2020 photo shows an empty Interstate 163 in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, Utah, on the Navajo reservation. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Navajo Monument Vally Tribal Park is closed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

CH’ÍHOOTSOOÍ, DINÉTAH, (WINDOW ROCK, NAVAJO NATION) — As the spread of COVID-19 slows down among Navajo Nation communities, the nation reported its first case of the SARS-CoV-2 Strain Variant B.1.1.7, also known as the U.K. strain on Tuesday. 

A test sample of the COVID-19 variant was discovered in the western portion of the Navajo Nation. The resident who tested positive for the variant received the COVID-19 vaccine more than a month prior to catching the strain, according to the Navajo Department of Health. They were hospitalized due to the variant and are now recovering at home. 

“In this particular case, the severity of the infection for this individual may have been reduced by the vaccine that the person received weeks prior,” said President of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez. “As we’ve said before, the vaccines do not guarantee that a person won’t become infected with COVID-19 and the variants, so it’s very important to continue taking all precautions even after you are fully vaccinated.”

President Nez advised residents living on the sovereign land to remain calm, considering the variant has been detected in all 50 states. 

“We shouldn’t panic, but we should be informed about this new development,” said President Nez. “We don’t want to cause panic, but we want to reinforce the need to take all precautions by limiting travel, getting tested if symptoms occur, wearing one or two masks, avoiding medium to large in-person gatherings, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands often.” 

No further cases of the variant were detected within the nation, as indicated by contact tracing. 

“Personal responsibility is key to reducing the spread of the U.K. variant,” said Vice President Lizer. “We know how to prevent the virus from spreading, but we all have to do our part.

“Please remain vigilant, keep taking all precautions, and continue to pray. Our health care experts are doing their best to mitigate the spread of the U.K. variant and to save lives,” said Vice President Lizer. 

For more information on COVID-19, visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website: http://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19. For COVID-19 related questions and information, call (928) 871-7014. 

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