A visitor who recently arrived from Namibia was confirmed as the first case of the new omicron coronavirus variant in Japan on Tuesday, according to an official.
The patient, a man in his 30s, tested positive upon arrival at Narita airport on Sunday, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. He was isolated and is being treated at a hospital. Matsuno refused to reveal his nationality, citing privacy concerns.
He was infected with the new variant, which was first identified in South Africa, according to a genome analysis at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases on Tuesday. His travel companions and passengers in nearby seats have been identified, and Japanese health authorities have been notified for further investigation.
Two of the patient’s relatives tested negative, according to Japanese media, and have been quarantined in a government facility near Narita airport. According to Matsuno, the government will maintain strict border controls and increase its capacity for genome analyses of the new variant.
Japan announced on Monday that all foreign visitors will be barred from entering the country beginning Tuesday as an emergency precaution against the variant, which will last until the end of the year. Japanese nationals and foreigners with residency permits must also quarantine for 14 days after entering the country.
According to early evidence, the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high,” and it could lead to surges with “severe consequences,” according to the World Health Organization.
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