ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four additional cases of a coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil have been found in Alaska, state health officials said.
Two of the cases were from Anchorage and two from Eagle River, health officials announced Wednesday.
One case of the variant had previously been detected in Alaska, but officials last month said additional cases were likely given the person in that case had not recently traveled outside Alaska and did not have a clear source of infection, Alaska Public Media reported.
As of Tuesday, 15 cases of the variant had been reported in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But experts have said those numbers likely don’t reflect the true number of cases, given limited capacity for the complicated laboratory work required to detect individual strains.
Officials in Alaska have said a consortium of state and university scientists has provided a good picture of what versions of the virus are circulating in the state. They also have said vaccinations are important to keep variants from spreading more widely.
“The less COVID we have circulating, the less variants there are,” said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday that the state was allowing anyone 16 or older who lives or works in Alaska to get a vaccine.
Alaska previously recorded two cases of a variant first detected in the United Kingdom.