The Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Tuesday that the first case of the P.1 COVID-19 variant of concern, which originated in Brazil, has been detected in Massachusetts. The individual is a woman in her 30s who resides in Barnstable County on Cape Cod.
DPH was notified of her test results from genetic sequencing conducted through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national surveillance system. Currently, there is no information available on the woman’s illness or whether she has recently traveled. She tested positive for COVID-19 in late February.
As of Tuesday, there have been 213 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, originally found in the United Kingdom, and 6 cases of the B.1.351, which originated in South Africa, reported in Massachusetts. The B.1.1.7 variant is known to spread more easily and has caused a rapid surge of cases in the UK, several other countries, and parts of the United States.
The best defense against variants of concern is to prevent the spread of COVID.
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.