TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announced Tuesday that an emerging variant of coronavirus known as the Brazilian or P.1 variant has been identified in an individual in Sedgwick County.
A case investigation is being conducted to determine how the person became infected with this particular variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as if others may have been exposed.
According to the KDHE, the variant was determined through the genome sequencing.
The P.1 variant was originally identified in four travelers from Brazil tested during routine screening at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Japan. This variant was detected in the U.S. at the end of January 2021 and has been found in 31 states and territories in the U.S.
At this point, there is still much to learn about the transmission characteristics and potential severity of the P.1 variant. Although this strain can reduce some vaccines’ effectiveness, health officials say vaccines still provide strong protection against severe illness and death.
“We continue to encourage people to take the appropriate precautions. This includes wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose and face and has multiple layers of fabric or layering thinner masks with an additional cloth face mask to improve the fit,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said. “Kansans should also follow isolation and quarantine recommendations, practice physical distancing, good hygiene, staying home if ill, and getting the vaccine if you are able to.”
Two other variants of concern have been identified in Kansas, including the UK variant, B.1.1.7, and the South African variant, B.1.351. Find variant information regarding Kansas on the COVID-19 dashboard under the “Variants” tab.
“In addition to following these healthy behaviors, this finding also shows the importance of getting tested for COVID-19,” Adrienne Byrne, Sedgwick County Health Director, adds.
Testing is available and free for all Kansans. To find a location near you, visit www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/280/COVID-19-Testing.
No further details were released concerning the Sedgwick County patient.