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Cape Cod Woman Has First Known Massachusetts Case of COVID-19 Variant from Brazil

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The state announced the first known Massachusetts case of the P.1 COVID-19 variant on Tuesday, and the patient is a Cape Cod woman in her 30s.

No information was available about the patient’s travel history or the severity of her illness.

The variant, which originated in Brazil, has raised concerns that it may be more contagious or re-infect people who’ve already had COVID-19.

Erika Woods, deputy director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, said the public should assume variants are out there and continue to take precautions.

“That really does not change with a new variant,” she said. “We highly encourage that people continue to wear their masks, social distance, and wash your hands — whether or not you have been able to receive the vaccine.”

The CDC’s national surveillance system identified the Cape Cod woman’s case through genetic sequencing.

P.1 was first detected in travelers from Brazil during routine screening at an airport outside Tokyo, Japan.

Authorities identified the first U.S. case in late January.

Other variants receiving attention from the CDC include B.1.1.7, which emerged in the United Kingdom, and B.1.351, which emerged in South Africa.

“We're still learning more about all the variants, and how effective these vaccines are against these variants,” Woods said.