Illinois health officials say that nearly 7,800 coronavirus cases have been linked to various variants of the virus, including more than 5,100 cases involving a more-contagious strain of the virus that originated in the United Kingdom.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has identified 5,188 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus during the pandemic. That variant, which has been shown in studies to spread more rapidly than other strains, was first identified in Dec. 2020 in the United States, and was originally detected in the UK.

While the UK strain is the primary variant currently identified in Illinois, the P.1 variant, which originated in Brazil, is becoming more prevalent as well. According to officials, 1,967 COVID cases are tied to the variant, which was first detected in the United States in January.

Officials say that approximately 504 cases of coronavirus have been tied to the B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants of the virus, which is believed to have originated in California last year. Another 94 cases are linked to the B.1.351 variant, which is believed to have originated in South Africa in Oct. 2020 and was first detected in the U.S. in January.

While the strains are different, scientists say that most are believed to spread more quickly than the original COVID-19 variant, and that some could potentially cause more serious health issues. Vaccines have been shown to be largely effective against the variants, but officials warn that continued spread of variants could slow down reopening efforts due to increasing COVID statistics.

The state updates case totals for each of the variants every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

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