TACOMA — More contagious and aggressive coronavirus variants first identified in California and Brazil are increasing their numbers in Washington, according to a report published Thursday by the state Department of Health.

“Previously, it appeared the B.1.1.7, or United Kingdom variant, was going to be the predominant variant soon in Washington,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, the acting state health officer.

Now, the California variant, designated B.1.429, could become the most common strain of SARS-CoV-2 — the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — in Washington.

The next few weeks will be telling, Lindquist told reporters in a weekly COVID-19 briefing.

In addition, a Brazilian variant, called P.1, has increased its numbers although it’s far less prevalent. DOH is monitoring eight variants, collectively called “variants of concern.”

Shah said the majority of infections can still be attributed to behaviors associated with exposure to the virus. He urged the public to wear masks and to follow social distancing and other guidelines.

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