SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A medical center in Louisiana says it has identified the state’s first two cases of a COVID-19 variant which has spread widely since being identified in India.

Britain and the World Health Organization consider it a variant of concern because experts think it may spread more easily than the original virus, LSU Health Shreveport said in a news release Friday.

The health system said the two samples were among more than 2,600 for which its Center for Emerging Viral Threats has decoded the genome. That represents 56% of all viral genomic surveillance data from Louisiana, the news release said.

Overall, the lab has processed 331,000 tests, and 7,600 were positive. That’s less than 5% of Louisiana’s total tests and less than 2% of the positive tests in the state. As of Friday, Louisiana has reported 7.3 million tests and 467,800 cases of COVID-19.

At least two other variants have shown up in Louisiana — the one first identified in the United Kingdom and the one first found in Brazil.

LSU Health Shreveport said its lab found that the one first found in England remains dominant in North Louisiana, as in the rest of the United States.

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