Massachusetts officials have identified a case of the P.1 coronavirus variant in a Cape Cod woman who first tested positive for the illness in February. In a news release posted Tuesday, state health officials said they had no information on the woman’s illness or whether she had traveled prior to infection.
The P.1 variant, which originated in Brazil, has been detected in at least 10 jurisdictions across the U.S., and detected in at least 25 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state’s health department said the case was detected through genetic sequencing conducted by the CDC.
"The best defense against variants of concern is to prevent the spread of COVID," Massachusetts health officials said in the news release. "This includes wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding groups, staying home when you are sick, getting tested if you have symptoms or are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID, and getting vaccinated when it is your turn."
The P.1 variant was first identified in four travelers from Brazil who were tested at an airport outside Tokyo, according to the CDC. The country is currently experiencing a resurgence that is pushing hospital systems to the brink as it’s new health minister, Marcel Queiroga, president of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology, attempts to fix several wrongs.
The variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of January. Studies on the impact the variant may have on currently approved vaccines are ongoing, but early data has prompted companies to look into booster shots to combat the mutations.
As far as variants are concerned, the P.1 so far is less widespread than others, including the B.1.1.7 UK variant which Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, has said will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of this month.