New mutant strain of coronavirus discovered in Japan

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A new mutant strain of coronavirus has been discovered in Japan which health officials say has similarities to that of the highly contagious variants in Britain and South Africa.

The mutation, which has not been spotted before, was found in four people who arrived on a flight from Brazil.

According to Nikkei Asia, the passengers touched down at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Saturday, January 2.

The group, described as men and women in their teens to 40s, had tests at the airport that came back positive.

Three of those who tested positive for the virus exhibited symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever and a sore throat.

A new strain of coronavirus has been identified in Japan after four passengers arriving on a flight from Brazil tested positive at the airport. Pictured: People wear face masks in Tokyo

Three of those who tested positive for the virus exhibited symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever and a sore throat.  Pictured: Haneda Airport in Tokyo

Three of those who tested positive for the virus exhibited symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever and a sore throat. Pictured: Haneda Airport in Tokyo

According to Bloomberg, a man in his 40s had arrived in Japan without any symptoms, but was later hospitalized with difficulty breathing.

Their tests were taken to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who confirmed that it was the mutated variant.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has reported the new strain to the World Health Organization.

Information available on the new strain is currently limited to its genetic makeup and it is not yet possible to determine how infectious it is.

It is also not yet possible to know whether the vaccines that are deployed around the world will be effective in combating it.

Japan recently recorded more than 7,000 new cases per day, with Tokyo’s daily cases exceeding 2,000.

Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has reported the new strain to the World Health Organization.  Pictured: People wear masks on the street in Tokyo

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has reported the new strain to the World Health Organization. Pictured: People wear masks on the street in Tokyo

Overall, Japan has confirmed more than 270,000 cases, including more than 3,900 deaths.

Several regional governments in Japan have requested a declaration of state of emergency like the one issued by the prime minister in the Tokyo region to stem the surge in coronavirus cases.

The heads of the prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in central Japan forwarded their request to Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister responsible for coronavirus measures, during an online conference call on Saturday, the governor said. Osaka Hirofumi Yoshimura to reporters.

There was no immediate decision, but the government’s medical panel will investigate the situation, Yoshimura said.

The state of emergency in Japan, which began on Friday for Tokyo and the surrounding areas of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, involves asking restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m. It lasts a month but can be extended.

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