First known U.S. case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant discovered in Minnesota

A variant of COVID-19 that originated in Brazil has been discovered in a Minnesota patient, officials say. It is the first known case documented in the United States.  

The Minnesota Department of Health said the variant, known as Brazil P.1 variant, was found in a person who had recently traveled to Brazil.

The variant is thought to be more easily spread than the original COVID-19 strain, but it is not known if it causes more severe illness.

Officials say the person is a resident of the Twin Cities metro area. They first became sick in early January and were tested Jan. 9. After their initial positive test, MDH officials told the person to isolate. MDH staff are now re-interviewing them for more details.

"These cases illustrate why it is so important to limit travel during a pandemic as much as possible," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield in a statement. "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."

Passengers traveling to the U.S. from abroad must have a negative test from within three days of travel or a certificate of prior infection before they can board starting Jan. 26. Travelers are recommended to get tested three to five days after arrival and quarantine for a week.