A new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in four travelers from the Brazilian state of Amazonas, the Japanese Ministry of Health announced on Sunday. The strain differs from highly infectious variants first found in Britain and South Africa which have resulted in an increase in cases in those countries.
A ministry official said studies were underway on the effectiveness of vaccines against the new variant.
“At the moment, there is no evidence showing that the new variant found in those in Brazil is rich in infectivity,” said Takaji Wakita, director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), during a briefing from the Ministry of Health.
Still, Brazil’s health ministry said it has been informed by Japanese authorities that the new variant has 12 mutations, one of which is also present in variants found in the UK and South Africa. “It implies potentially higher viral infectivity,” he said.
Of the four travelers who arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on January 2, a man in his 40s had difficulty breathing, a woman in her 30s had a headache and throat pain, and a teenager had a fever. , while a teenage girl did not have symptoms, the health ministry said.
All four people tested positive for the new coronavirus in quarantine at airports, and the new mutant strain was detected through a detailed examination by the NIID, according to the ministry.
The ministry also said the variant reported in Britain was found in three different people who had close contact with a man infected with the strain.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health has asked the Japanese government to provide information on the new variant of the novel coronavirus detected in the four travelers.
The ministry asked for information such as the genetic sequence of the new strain.
Brazil’s ministry has taken the necessary preventive measures, including sending a warning to relevant national organizations, an official said.
He asked the Japanese ministry for information on travelers’ stays in Brazil in order to track their possible contact with others, the official said.
Brazil is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections, with a daily average of more than 50,000 people testing positive for the virus in January. In Brazil, mutant strains of the British and South African types have been confirmed.
In Japan, the government declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures last week after seeing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.
Cumulative cases nationwide have reached around 289,000, with 4,067 deaths on Sunday, state broadcaster NHK said.
In a time of both disinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing you can help us make the right story.