The first known case of the contagious Brazilian coronavirus variant in the US has been found in Minnesota, local health officials said Monday.
The variant was found in a resident of the Twin Cities area with “recent travel history to Brazil,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement.
The patient started feeling ill in the first week of January and tested positive on Jan. 9, according to officials.
Epidemiologists are speaking with the patient to track their travel history, contacts and symptoms of the disease.
The mutation — like those that have been documented in the UK and South Africa — is believed to be more contagious than the original strain that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s unclear if the variant causes more severe illness than the original coronavirus strain.
“We’re thankful that our testing program helped us find this case, and we thank all Minnesotans who seek out testing when they feel sick or otherwise have reason to get a test,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a statement.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield added in the statement that cases like this illustrate why it’s so important to avoid travel during the pandemic.
“If you must travel, it is important to watch for symptoms of COVID-19, follow public health guidance on getting tested prior to travel, use careful protective measures during travel, and quarantine and get tested after travel,” Dr. Lynfield said.
President Biden on Monday reimposed a ban on most non-US citizens traveling into the country from Brazil.
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