New coronavirus variant found in travellers from Brazil: Japan government

TOKYO: A new coronavirus variant was detected in four travellers from Brazil, Japan’s Health Ministry said on Sunday (Jan 10), marking an advance in changes to the pandemic virus.

The new variant is different from those first found in Britain and South Africa, although the three of them share some common mutation, said Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

“I understand a new variant that is different from Britain’s and South Africa’s has been found,” Wakita told a health ministry briefing.

READ: Osaka seeks state of emergency as new Tokyo COVID-19 infections top 2,000

READ: Tokyo starts first day under COVID-19 state of emergency

Characteristics of the new variant, such as how effective vaccines can be against it and how serious its symptoms can be, are being studied, a health ministry official said.

Tokyo reported 1,494 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, its lowest daily number since Tuesday.

Japan declared a limited state of emergency in the capital and three neighbouring prefectures on Thursday to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections.

Osaka and its surrounding prefectures have also asked the government to expand the state of emergency to contain the outbreak in the western cities.

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