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More contagious COVID variant now in Greater New Orleans & Southwest Louisiana: LDH

"Although these are the first reported cases of the P.1 variant in Louisiana, it is likely that there are additional undetected cases circulating."

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has had two confirmed cases of COVID's Brazil P.1 variant, and one of those cases is in the Greater New Orleans area, a Thursday statement from the Louisiana Department of Health said.

"Although these are the first reported cases of the P.1 variant in Louisiana, it is likely that there are additional undetected cases circulating," the statement said.

The Brazil P.1 variant of COVID is one of the variants that concerned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the LDH statement said. But current COVID vaccines are effective against that strain.

"It is potentially associated with increased transmissibility and reduced susceptibility to certain therapeutics," the statement said. "Recent data suggest that the P.1 variant may also be associated with a higher risk of severe disease."

The second case was in the Southwest Louisiana Region.

The two patients did not report a history of travel, and neither had received the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Other COVID "variants of concern" in Louisiana include B.1.1.7 (U.K.), B.1.427/429 (California), and P.1. (Brazil). 

Officials want people to know that COVID-19 vaccines are the best protection against these and other COVID strains, including variants that may spread more easily or cause more severe disease. 

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can also help prevent new variants from emerging: every infection that is prevented means the virus has one less chance to mutate, officials said.

Everyone 16 years of age and above is currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Information about vaccination locations can be found here or by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 855-453-0774. The Hotline can also connect individuals with medical professionals to answer questions about the vaccines or help callers schedule vaccine appointments.