Japan’s Health Ministry said on Sunday it detected a new variant of the coronavirus in four travelers from the Brazilian state of Amazonas, marking another leap in pandemic movements.
A senior ministry official said studies were underway on the efficacy of vaccines against the new variant, which differs from the highly infectious mutations found in the UK and South Africa, which have led to sharp increases in cases.
“At the moment, there is no evidence to show that the new variant found in these travelers from Brazil is highly infectious,” Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, said at a Health Ministry briefing.
Of the four travelers who arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on January 2nd, a man in his 40s had respiratory problems, a woman in her 30s had a headache and a sore throat, a young teenager had a fever, and another woman, Also an adolescent, he did not present any symptoms, according to the Ministry of Health.
All travelers are in quarantine at the Tokyo airport, the Brazilian Ministry of Health said.
After experiencing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, Japan on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures of the capital.
Cases nationwide have risen to 289,000, with 4,061 deaths, public broadcaster NHK said.