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

Race to roll out COVID vaccine intensifies
Race to roll out vaccine intensifies as new COVID strains emerge 04:47

The first known U.S. case of a coronavirus variant from Brazil was confirmed on Monday, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). COVID-19 Brazil P.1 was detected in a person from the Twin Cities area who recently traveled to Brazil, reports CBS Minnesota.

The person was sick during the first week of January and was tested for coronavirus on January 9.

The case was discovered by MDH through a random audit the agency performs weekly. Fifty samples were collected from testing partners, including the University of Minnesota clinical laboratories and Infinity Biologix Laboratory in Oakdale.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm stressed the importance of the testing program as well as why it's important to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"The fewer people who get COVID-19, the fewer opportunities the virus has to evolve," Malcolm said in a statement. "The good news is that we can slow the spread of this variant and all COVID-19 variants by using the tried-and-true prevention methods of wearing masks, keeping social distance, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Brazilian variant "was first identified in four travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Japan."

An additional variant, known as the B 1.1.7 variant or the U.K. variant, has also been detected in multiple countries, including the U.S. and Canada. A South African variant known as 1.351 has yet to be detected in the U.S.

The U.S. marked a grim milestone earlier this week when COVID-19 cases surpassed 25 million, according to data reported by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 99 million cases have been reported.

Nearly 421,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., while more than 2.1 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19.

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