Japan Confirms Five Cases of New Coronavirus Variant

TOKYO – Japan’s Health Ministry on Friday has confirmed the country’s first cases of the new and more contagious coronavirus variant that has been spreading in Britain.

According to the Health Ministry, five people – four males and one female – tested positive for the new strain through airport screening when they arrived in Japan from Britain between Dec. 18 and 21.

Two males landed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo while the others arrived at Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

One male has complained of fatigue while the four others are asymptomatic.

Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told a press conference that the five individuals were sent to quarantine at hotels after airport authorities confirmed their infections.

Japan on Thursday has started refusing new arrivals from Britain. Japanese nationals and foreign residents are allowed entry.

The new coronavirus variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom in September, and could be 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain, British health officials said. - Florenda Corpuz