The new strain has higher infection rates, according to experts.
Japan has confirmed that 5 individuals in the country have tested positive of the new – and highly-infectious – U.K. strain of the coronavirus.
During an emergency media briefing, health minister Norihisa Tamura shared that all the infected persons have recently returned from their trips to Britain.
So far, no information have been given about the travelers’ nationalities but as reports have confirmed that they arrived “between Dec. 18 and 21, and were tested at either Tokyo’s Haneda Airport or Kansai International Airport near Osaka.”
Four of them exhibited no synptoms while one man in his 60s said he exprienced fatigue.
The country has since announced a ban on new entries from the UK amid fears over the new strain.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is encouraging the public to observe safety precautions as they welcome 2021.
“I want you to spend a quiet New Year. The infections aren’t coming down and if we keep going like this, we won’t be able to avoid further spread of the virus.”
Shigeru Omi, President of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, also warned:
“If we don’t bring infections down now, once they surge again after the New Year period it won’t be easy to change the downward trend. It would take time, and would probably be impossible to control over a period of weeks.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently pointed out that presently, there is still “no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death,” it has been predicted to “potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2.”
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