COVINGTON, Ga. — State health officials have confirmed Newton County is the location of the first Georgia case of a particularly contagious coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil.
“Currently we have one confirmed case with P.1 (Brazil) variant and that case is in Newton County,” said Nancy Nydam, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Georgia Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday the state has confirmed 351 U.K. variant cases, 15 South African variant cases and now the Brazil variant, WSB-TV reported.
The Atlanta-based CDC has designated it a "variant of concern" and it is in at least six states, including Georgia.
The National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan first reported the P.1. variant in late January after four travelers from Brazil were screened at an airport outside of Tokyo, The Associated Press reported.
It was originally detected in Manaus, Brazil, and appears to be more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain, according to The Associated Press.
The variant has 17 unique mutations, including three in the virus’ spiked protein, according to the CDC.
To reduce the risks of P.1 outbreaks and reinfections, Dr. Nuno Faria, a virologist at Imperial College London, told the New York Times it was important to double down on every measure available to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including masks and social distancing.
Vaccination can help drive down its transmission and protect those who do get infected from severe disease, the Times reported.
Dr. Audrey Arona, health director for the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Counties Health Departments, told WSB-TV public health officials were not surprised about the variants being in Georgia. The UK variant continues to increase, Arona said.
Arona said reinfection from coronavirus can happen after 90 days, WSB reported.