Health officials in Minnesota have confirmed that they have identified a person with the P.1 variant of coronavirus.
The individual is a resident of the Twin Cities metro area “with recent travel history to Brazil”, and was tested on 9 January after feeling sick in the first week of the year.
Officials say that the the variant was detected through genomic sequencing of random blood samples.
The Brazil variant of the virus has drawn widespread attention, along with the mutations from the United Kingdom and South Africa.
The variant was first detected in four people who had travelled from Brazil’s Amazonas state to Tokyo earlier this month, and is the latest mutated form of the coronavirus to have emerged during the pandemic.
Japanese scientists are studying the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines against the variant, which shares similarities with the highly infectious variants identified in Britain and South Africa that have driven a huge surge in cases across the two nations
“This isn’t surprising. It’s a very difficult development, but at the same time not unexpected,” said Michael T Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Mr Osterholm is also an adviser to the president’s coronavirus response team.