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'We knew' it was already here: San Francisco officials

The person is in self-quarantine and the department is notifying all of the patient's contacts.

Key questions remain about the new variant, which has rattled markets amid signs it may spread quickly and evade some of the defenses provided by vaccines.

It has been found in two dozen countries, including Spain, Canada, Britain, Austria and Portugal. For days, U.S. health officials have said the new variant - first detected in southern Africa and announced on Nov. 25 - was likely already in the United States as dozens of other countries also detected its presence.

The United States has barred nearly all foreigners who have been in one of eight southern African countries.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) directed airlines to disclose names and other information of passengers who have been to those countries.