Houston reports uncontrolled community spread of UK variant

Houston has identified the U.K. coronavirus variant at 79 percent of the city's wastewater treatment plants. The test results suggest there is "ongoing and uncontrolled community spread" of the more contagious variant, the Houston Health Department said March 8. 

Researchers collected water samples from the city's 39 wastewater treatment plants Feb. 22. Testing detected the B.1.1.7 variant at 31 treatment plants, up from 21 sites as of Feb. 8.   

In total, 19 percent of wastewater samples collected Feb. 22 detected the U.K. variant. 

"The prevalence of the U.K. variant in our wastewater shows it's actively spreading in our city," David Persse, MD, Houston's CMO, said in a news release. "This is another clear indication that we must continue to mask up, practice social distancing, wash our hands, get tested and get vaccinated when possible."

The city began testing its wastewater in May 2020 to quickly identify and contain emerging COVID-19 outbreaks.

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