A case of a more contagious coronavirus variant first found in Brazil has been confirmed in Minnesota, the state’s department of health said in a statement on Monday. It is the first confirmed case of the variant in the United States.
The case was identified in a Minnesota resident who had recently traveled to Brazil, the department said, which could suggest that the variant may not yet be widely circulating.
The variant, known as B.22.214.171.124 or P.1, shares many mutations with one first identified in South Africa. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines still protect from the variant circulating in South Africa, the companies have said, but they are slightly less effective. They are expected to perform similarly against the variant identified in Brazil.
The P.1 variant is also thought to be more contagious but it is unclear if it causes more severe illness. The Minnesota Department of Health identified it through its variant surveillance program, which collects 50 random samples from laboratories in the state each week.
The person with the confirmed case is a resident of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, the department said. The patient became ill during the first week of January and the specimen was collected Jan. 9, it said.
Investigators from the health department had spoken with the person after the test was positive for Covid-19, and the person had traveled to Brazil before becoming ill. The person was told to isolates and have household members quarantine. Health officials are conducting additional interviews with the person to learn more about the illness, travel and close contacts.
President Biden’s press secretary said on Monday that he will extend the Trump administration’s ban on travel by noncitizens into the United States from Brazil, along with similar restrictions Europe and the United Kingdom, where other variants have been identified. It also added South Africa to the list.