Japan Finds First P.3 Variant in Traveler from Philippines

TOKYO – A man returning from the Philippines tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant first detected in the Southeast Asian country, the Japanese health ministry reported on Friday.

According to the ministry, the man in his 60s who arrived at Narita International Airport last Feb. 25 was found positive for the new variant after undergoing airport quarantine, and was asymptomatic.

He is currently receiving treatment at a designated facility, the ministry said.

The P.3 variant, as the Philippine health department calls it, was first identified in Central Visayas, and has been "linked to possible increased transmissibility and immune escape in some studies”, the UP Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said.

As of March 13, there are 98 COVID-19 cases with the P.3 variant in the Philippines.

"In light of the spread of infection in the Philippines, strengthening of border measures should be considered immediately," Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said in a statement. -  Florenda Corpuz