The University of Michigan said Saturday that it had suspended all athletic activities for up to two weeks and told athletes, coaches and team members to quarantine immediately after “multiple” cases of a more communicable variant of the coronavirus were found in people related to the sports department.

The department said the suspension was ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to prevent further spread of the variant, which was first identified in the UK and known as B.1.1.7 and is estimated to be about 50 percent more transferable than other variants.

“Cancellation of competitions is never something we want to do,” said Warde Manuel, director of sport at the University of Michigan, in a statement, “but with so many unknowns about this variant of Covid-19, we have to do everything we can to do minimize.” distributed to student athletes, trainers, employees and to the student athletes of other schools. “

Michigan, a member of the Big Ten Conference, has one of the most famous sports programs in the country. The men’s basketball team currently ranks seventh nationwide and the women’s team eleventh. With a two-week suspension, both teams would have to postpone or cancel at least four games.

Washtenaw County officials, On Saturday, the University of Michigan announced that five Variant B.1.1.7 cases had been found in the county and other possible cases were being investigated. They said the first case was discovered in the University of Michigan community on January 16, but it was not clear whether the subsequent cases were related to the first.

The university administration said that five cases of the variant have been found in people associated with the school. It added that all five people were isolated and had mild or no symptoms, and that all of their close contacts had been identified, tested and quarantined.

The coronavirus has disrupted college sports programs across the country, with thousands of infections among athletes, coaches and employees. An analysis by the New York Times last month found that the Big Ten Conference reported the most cases in a top division, including more than 200 in Michigan.

The first US case of the B.1.1.7 variant was found in Colorado last month and has now been discovered in at least 22 states. Federal health officials have warned it could be the dominant source of coronavirus infections in the country by March.

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