UCF student diagnosed with U.K. coronavirus variant

University officials say student isolated, contact tracing measures taken

ORLANDO, Fla. – A student at the University of Central Florida has been diagnosed with a variant of the coronavirus first found in the United Kingdom and thought to be more easily transmissible.

Dr. Michael Deichen, associate vice president of UCF student health services sent a statement Thursday that said in part:

“This week, we learned that this strain is on our campus, with a report of one student case. UCF has enacted our standard contact tracing and isolation processes...

This is a reminder that we must work even harder to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as the roll out of vaccines continues in our community. While vaccines are proven effective against COVID-19 and the emerging variants, we also know that habitual mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand sanitizing also prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The tools that we use to fight this variant are no different than the steps we have taken for nearly a year. COVID-19 and these new variants are not easily transmissible when face coverings are worn properly, physical distancing is maintained, and hands are regularly sanitized.

This is not a time to panic, but rather to remember how important it is to prioritize health and safety by adopting the practices that are proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and these emerging variants.

Wear your mask, maintain your distance, wash your hands — Armor Up, Knights!”

The Orlando-based university is one of the nation’s largest with more than 66,000 students.

Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the student did not live on campus.

The university is encouraging students to limit interactions with people outside of their immediate pods and to continue to follow health and safety guidelines.

“It’s kind of scary but I don’t think I’m very at risk, but I don’t want to get it and give it to anyone else,” said UCF junior Tripp Shippen.

Although UCF confirmed one case of the U.K. strain, the university believes the variant is more widespread than that. Some students said they don’t feel any more at risk.

“I have concerns, but that concern has always been there because there’s always been a possibility that something will happen,” said UCF senior Cameron Nicholas.

“I don’t really get near anyone. I keep my distance and I don’t have any classes in person,” said UCF junior Sardina Avidjanova.

Some students noted people have gotten a little laxer when it comes to safety protocol. Others said that they feel safe and that the University has continued to enforce CDC guidelines on campus.

“They have people working here checking to make sure we wear masks and stay six feet apart. If you’re not wearing a mask correctly, they’ll get on you. I believe UCF has been doing their part,” said UCF student Willie Jones.

The Florida Department of Health announced the state’s first case of the U.K. variant at the end of last year. The state now leads the nation in cases of the variant with almost 350 confirmed diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tens of thousands of college students around the nation have tested positive for the virus and some schools have seen spikes in cases with students returning to campus.

UCF said it will continue its contact tracing efforts and making sure those impacted by the virus are isolating.