WINFIELD, Kan. (KSNT) – The prison in Winfield is dealing with an outbreak of the coronavirus, and Kansas’ top doctor is worried its speed in spreading is similar to new coronavirus variants.

“They hadn’t had any COVID-19 for weeks and then a whole cluster of cases broke out,” said Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The Kansas Department of Corrections shows 69 prisoners and eight workers at Winfield have the coronavirus.

“The thing that set off the alarm of course was the rapidity of the spread which is back to the U.K. variant or the South African variant, one of the things that bothered, worried us,” Norman said.

Norman said his department tracked the virus, and found that it came into the prison from the community through the food service workers.

“Then it went from there to some other places, but really it was very fast spread, and we’re going to test every one of those positive individuals with genomic sequencing,” Norman said.

A spokesperson for the KDHE says they do not know if it’s a variant, but that genome sequencing will figure out the answer.

The KDHE says the Winfield outbreak is an example of why it is important to vaccinate prisoners and other people in congregate settings.

“It was brought into the facility and then taken back out into the community,” Norman said.