Brazil detects new COVID-19 variant

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A patient was identified for the first time in Brazil with a coronavirus variant similar to the one first detected in South Africa, and it could also be a mutation of the variant first seen in Brazil’s Amazonas state, local authorities said Wednesday.

This new variant was detected in a patient hospitalized in the city of Sorocaba, 97 km west of Sao Paulo, said Dimas Covas, director of the state laboratory Butantan Institute, at a press conference.

“The variant found in Sorocaba resembles the one (first detected) in South Africa, although there is no link between the patient and someone who has traveled to South Africa,” he said. “The variant may be an evolution of the P1.”

P1 is the variant that emerged in Amazonas in November and is considered more contagious and lethal. It is responsible for a new wave of outbreak in Brazil that has been overwhelming its hospital system.

Covas said it is now necessary to determine the “real incidence” of this variant, or if it is just one case.

“The information we have identifies the variant as the one (first detected) in South Africa, which is new to Brazil,” said Paulo Menezes, coordinator of the Sao Paulo Coronavirus Contingency Center, at the conference.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, Brazil has logged 321,515 COVID-19 deaths, with a daily average of more than 2,500 deaths in March, making it a global epicenter of the pandemic.

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