japan coronavirus underground

Commuters wear their face masks on a subway train in Japan. Image: Adobe Stock

Japan registers first case of South African coronavirus strain

The country has confirmed its first case of the South African variant, while more than a dozen cases of the fast-spreading UK strain have also emerged.

japan coronavirus underground

Commuters wear their face masks on a subway train in Japan. Image: Adobe Stock

A woman in her 30s who arrived in Japan on 19 December tested positive for the new strain being seen in South Africa, Japan’s health ministry said on Monday.

The announcement, reported on by The Japan Times, comes after the Japanese government on Monday began banning the entry of nonresident foreign nationals following the discovery of the new UK strain in Japan.

Japan continues to see rises in COVID-19 cases across the country. In Tokyo, 856 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Tuesday, following a record high 949 cases Saturday.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, urged calm ahead of the New Year holidays, when hospitals could be understaffed, and instructed his ministers to remain alert.

“They say that no evidence is showing the vaccines that are already being administered overseas are not effective against this variant, and anti-infection steps for it are unchanged from those for the conventional virus,” Suga said on Monday in reference to the new, fast-spreading UK variant.

He spoke ahead of the announcement that the South Africa-linked strain had been detected.

“The virus recognises no year-end or new year holidays. I ask each minister to raise the level of their sense of urgency and thoroughly carry out countermeasures,” he a government task force on the coronavirus response.

Cases of infections have also been reported among politicians, The Japan Times reported.

Yuichiro Hata, a 53-year-old former transport minister and the son of former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, died of COVID-19 on Sunday, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan said.

Five other lawmakers in the National Diet, Japan’s bicameral legislature, have also tested positive for coronavirus so far.


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