Health officials in the northeastern state of Maranhão confirmed Brazil’s first cases of infection by the B.1.617.2 coronavirus variant — the so-called Indian variant. All were found in crew members of carrier ship MV Shandong da Zhi, which arrived in Brazil from South Africa.
A total of 15 people tested positive for Covid-19, but only six had enough viral load to run genomic tests.
This new variant is widely blamed for India’s brutal coronavirus surge and has spread to at least 44 countries. The World Health Organization classifies the Indian variant as a significant threat due to its high potential for contagion. In the United Kingdom — where cases are rising — the government upgraded this mutation of the virus to a “variant of concern,” the highest level of official alert.