A San Bernardino man has contracted the first known California case of the Brazilian strain of the coronavirus, San Bernardino County health officials announced Sunday.

The state’s first case of the P.1 variant was confirmed on Saturday, March 13, from a test taken on March 2, the county said in a news release. The county’s contact tracers have been in communication with the man, who is in his 40s, since March 3 and he has been self isolating at home. Officials are investigating how he might have been exposed to the variant.

The man has not been vaccinated, according to the county.

The variant is believed to be more contagious than the “common” strain of the coronavirus, the county said. The county said there is no evidence that this variant leads to harsher cases of COVID-19.

“County health officials urge residents to be as vigilant as ever about wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding contact with people outside of their households, and getting tested often to prevent the transmissions of all variants, along with getting vaccinated as soon as they are eligible,” the news release said.

“If we can contain this and continue vaccinating, we will continue to move forward,” Dr. Michael Sequeira, county public health officer, said in a statement. “If we complete the vaccination effort, at maximum pace and urgency, we will contain and virtually eliminate this and other variants.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three known coronavirus variants: B.1.1.7, which was identified by the United Kingdom;  B.1.351, which emerged in South Africa; and P.1, which was first identified in travelers from Brazil at a Japanese airport in early January. It was first detected in the United States at the end of January.

“So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway,” according to the CDC website.

As of Sunday, March 14, there have been 288,787 coronavirus cases in San Bernardino County, with 283,626 being resolved, according to the county Public Health Department. There have been 3,462 deaths attributed to the virus in the county. There were 50 confirmed coronavirus patients in the county’s ICUs and four suspected patients, the county reported on Sunday.

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