RICHMOND – On Friday, April 16, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 variant P.1, a variant of COVID-19, have been identified in the Commonwealth.
One of the identified cases is in an adult located in the Northwest Region of Virginia. This resident had a history of domestic travel during the time in which transmission would have occurred.
The second case was identified in an adult located in the Eastern Region. Unlike the other case, this resident did not have a history of travel during the time in which transmission would have occurred.
No other information regarding the patients can be released at this time due to patient privacy laws.
For both residents, the P.1 variant was identified through laboratory analysis. The VDH states that these laboratories use, “next-generation sequencing to help expand Virginia’s genomic surveillance efforts for genetic changes to the virus that causes COVID-19.”
The P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil in late 2020, is thought to be more transmissible than other strains of the disease. It is also associated with increased person-to-person contact. The scientific community is still studying the P.1 variant and also how the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines respond to this strain of the disease.
The VDH continues to encourage residents to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines such as wearing a mask, washing your hands, and continue to practice social distancing. Additionally, the VDH urges residents to continue to avoid crowds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks while in public. According to VDH Public Information Officer, Logan Anderson, this is because the scientific community is still studying whether or not a fully vaccinated person can transmit the disease to an unvaccinated person.
As of Sunday, April 18, the VDH has opened vaccination eligibility to residents 16 years and older. For more information, visit Vaccinate.Virginia.gov. It is important to note that local health departments are placing priority for eligible residents in the 1a, 1b and 1c categories.
To learn more about the CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated residents, clicking here.
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