Japan detects new variant of coronavirus, new cases at immigration centre
December 5, 2021

Japan detects new variant of coronavirus, immigration centre reports new cases

TOKYO (JAPAN) – Japan has confirmed a new variant of the novel coronavirus and has said a new infection cluster has emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility posing new challenges to the nation which is trying to overcome the third wave of the pandemic.

Authorities have detected the mutant variant in 91 cases in the Kanto area of eastern Japan as well as in two cases at airports, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato on Friday. The government is also enhancing surveillance to combat the spread of the mutants as they may be resistant to vaccines.

“It may be more contagious than conventional strains, and if it continues to spread domestically, it could lead to a rapid rise in cases,” Kato said.

Though it appears to have originated outside the nation, the new strain is different from other types that have been detected sporadically in the country, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. It has the E484K mutation on the spike protein of the virus discovered in other variants.

The health ministry said that the nation has 151 cases of variants from Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Five employees and 39 foreign detainees at a Tokyo immigration facility have returned positive tests.

A spokesman for the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau said all 130 detainees at the facility have been tested for the virus. Infected persons have been quarantined and their condition remains stable.

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