WORCESTER (CBS) – Just as the number of COVID-19 cases finally drops in Worcester, here comes the so-called UK variant B117.

“Because this can spread faster and more easily, we may see cases go up again,” said Dr. Richard Ellison, a professor in the infectious diseases division at UMass Medical School. “In most countries where it’s been seen, it starts out slowly, but the number of cases usually doubles every 10 days.”

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He says four cases, at least one of them in Worcester, were linked to European travel, but most have spread through local communities.

“I think in order to get everything under control, we should have a shutdown, like a little bit more of like a major shutdown,” said Kebrina Mathon, from Worcester. Of 29 cases in Massachusetts, most, 17, were in Worcester County. They were between the ages of four and 70. It has some in the city on edge.

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“I already had COVID…I had a headache and I was tired,” said one woman. She’s concerned her antibodies from her first illness would not protect against a variant. “It’s a different strain, so who knows.”

It gives more urgency to calls for speeding up vaccinations, a process that’s been criticized in Massachusetts. “I think it’s going a little slow,” said Worcester resident John Lebel. “It should be sped up. There should be a better process.”

There are two other variants the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is watching for. One is out of South Africa. Another originated in Brazil. They have not shown up in Massachusetts.

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Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible and to book an appointment.

Christina Hager