By CBSLA Staff

SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — California’s first case of the more contagious Brazilian variant has been detected in San Bernardino County, public health officials said.

The state alerted San Bernardino County officials to the case of P.1 Brazilian variant of the novel coronavirus on March 13. The variant was detected in a positive test sample collected on March 2 from a man in his 40s who reported experiencing symptoms and is self-isolating at home.

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Public health officials say contact tracers have been in contact with the man since March 3. It’s not yet known how the man was exposed to the Brazilian variant, and he has not been vaccinated, officials said.

The P.1 variant was discovered in Brazil in January and public officials believe it to be more contagious than the most common strain of the virus. However, they say there is no evidence yet that the variant leads to more severe cases of COVID-19 and it’s not yet clear if it is more resistant to vaccines.

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“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested in Brazil, where it showed 0% mortality and 85% success in preventing hospitalizations and severe infections, San Bernardino County Health Officer Dr. Michael Sequiera said in a statement.

The discovery of Brazilian variant comes the same weekend San Bernardino County enters the red tier, clearing the way for businesses and restaurants to resume some indoor operations with limited capacity. County officials say rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases allowed San Bernardino County to improve into the red tier.

Public health officials say that the discovery of variants in California make it more important than ever for people maintain safe guidelines as more counties improve into the red tier this week.

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“If we can contain this and continue vaccinating, we will continue to move forward,” Sequiera 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.”