A 65-year-old Maryland man who recently died had the P.1 variant of the novel coronavirus. The variant was first identified in Brazil.
The man had recently traveled internationally, and the state is currently in the process of contact tracing to avoid additional spread, according to a news release.
“State public health officials are closely monitoring the P.1 variant, and we mourn the loss of this Marylander to COVID-19,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said a statement. “As we continue to test for these variants, we strongly encourage Marylanders to continue taking precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”
Studies are still being done on this variant, but it is believed to be more transmissible than the initial strain of the virus. It is unknown if it causes a more serious infection.
The Brazil variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of January. Two other variants, those first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, were found in Maryland last month.
The announcement said that scientists believe current tests will still work in identifying the variant.
Scientists are also working to establish whether the current vaccines are effective in combatting the P.1 variant.
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