RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) –The Virginia Department of Health announced the first case of the South Africa COVID-19 variant in the state’s northwestern region had been identified in an adult resident.

The VDH said the person who tested positive for the variant had no travel history during the exposure period for the virus.

The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351, which first appeared in South Africa in late 2020, has an increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, however, the VDH said there is no evidence that being infected with this variant will lead to a more severe case of the disease.

The health department said there are now four cases of this variant identified in the state, and 20 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.

Since viruses often mutate, the health department said it expects new variants of SARS-CoV-2 as it spreads. Because of this, the VDH said it is critical Virginians comply with mitigation measures to help stop the spread of these new variants.

“We are in a race to stop the spread of these new variants,” the announcement said. “The more people that become infected, the greater that chance the virus will mutate and a variant will arise that could undermine the current vaccination efforts.”

To help prevent the spread of the virus, they suggest wearing your face mask correctly, staying six feet away from others, avoiding crowds, getting vaccinated when it’s your turn and staying home if you catch COVID-19.