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JEFFERSON CITY — Virus levels in Missouri's wastewater indicate that efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus have paid off, state officials said Friday.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said wastewater samples from across Missouri show that the U.K. variant of COVID-19 has spread to all parts of the state, but that overall levels have remained "relatively stable," officials said in a statement.

"This stability suggests that efforts to minimize transmission of the virus are working, and stresses the importance of continued testing, vaccinations, and adherence to local recommendations to stop the spread of the virus," the DHSS statement reads.

The U.K. variant, called B.1.1.7, was first identified in the United Kingdom last fall. Missouri’s first known case was reported in February, and by the end of the month officials said the variant was detected in water samples across the state

Other mutations of COVID-19 have not been found as consistently in Missouri. The U.K. variant is of particular concern because of evidence of its higher transmissibility, according to a news release from Missouri DHSS.

Rachel Rice • 314-340-8344

@RachelDRice on Twitter

rrice@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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