Japan finds new coronavirus variant in arrivals from Brazil

Tokyo, Jan 11 (efe-epa).- Japanese health authorities have detected a new variant of Covid-19, different from those identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, in four people who returned to the country from Brazil at the beginning of the month.

The infected people are two males and two females, aged from their teens to their forties, who tested positive for the virus upon arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Jan. 2 from the state of Amazonas, reported the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) on Sunday.

Three had shown symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, headaches and sore throat.

Although the detected variant shares similarities with strains recently detected in the UK and South Africa that are of concern because of their higher transmission rate, this particular one does not appear to have been identified before, the NIID explained in a statement echoed Monday by local media.

The Japanese infectious diseases center’s genome sequencing of the virus detected 12 mutations in its protein, and noted that at the moment “it is difficult to determine infectivity, pathogenicity or effects on testing methods and vaccines” and recommended keeping affected patients in isolation.

The Ministry of Health has reported the strain to both the Brazilian authorities and the World Health Organization.

The number of confirmed infections in Japan of newly detected and highly transmissible strains of the virus has risen to 34, including three local infections, two of them linked to a person who traveled to the UK, which were reported on Sunday.

The new cases of the British strain affect two people who dined with a man who had arrived from the UK and was supposed to be in self-isolation for two weeks.

About 10 people attended the meal, according to details collected by Nikkei. EFE-EPA


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