California’s first case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant appears in San Bernardino

California’s first confirmed case of the P.1 coronavirus variant, commonly known as the ‘Brazilian’ variant has been detected in a San Bernardino resident.  

The California Department of Public Health alerted the county to the case on March 13 after it was found in a positive test sample collected on March 2.

Health officials say the variant was detected by Fulgent Genetics. The resident who contracted the virus is said to be a man in his 40’s. 

Officials say on March 3 he reported experiencing symptoms and was self-isolating at home. The county is investigating how the resident might have been exposed to the variant. 

"We are taking immediate and aggressive action to contact trace and contain the virus and working with the CDPH in expanding whole genomic sequencing to identify more cases," said County Health Officer Dr. Michael S. Sequeira.

"Slowing the spread of the disease and minimizing the spread of all variants is doable with contact tracing, strategic quarantine with masking and social distancing, and most importantly vaccination." 

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The P.1 variant, discovered in Brazil in January, is believed to be more contagious than the most-common strain of the virus. However, there is no evidence the variant leads to harsher cases of COVID-19. 

According to doctors, it is not clear whether the variant is more resistant to vaccines.

"The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested in Brazil, where it showed 0% mortality and 85% success in preventing hospitalizations and severe infections," Sequeira said. 

The individual who contracted the virus has not been vaccinated yet. 

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This comes as San Bernardino County has entered the less-restrictive red tier in the state's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy.''  This allows for indoor dining to resume, as well as indoor services for gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters and several other businesses can reopen with a limited capacity. 

But even though things seem to be getting back to ‘normal’, county health officials urge to keep wearing masks, social distance, and avoid contact with people outside of their households, and get vaccinated as soon as eligible.

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