Horrified, Omicron Covid Variant Arrives in Japan, Asia Alert

Employees at Narita International Airport, near Tokyo, Japan, prepare to check on arriving passengers on November 30, 2021. Photo/REUTERS

TOKYO – After Japan succeeded in defeating the Covid-19 Delta variant, Tokyo reported the first case of the Omicron variant on Tuesday (11/30/2021). Media said the patient was a diplomat from Namibia.

“The infection was detected in a man in his 30s who had arrived from Namibia,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, quoted by Reuters.

Matsuno said the patient was staying in a medical facility. He declined to name the person’s nationality.

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The Japan Times quoted a government source as saying the patient was a Namibian diplomat who tested positive for Covid-19 at Narita Airport near Tokyo after arriving there on Sunday.

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Japan closed its borders to all foreign travelers on Tuesday in a bid to prevent travelers from spreading the Omicron variant that scientists believe is potentially more infectious and vaccine-resistant than previously known variants, such as Delta.

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Omicron was first recorded in Botswana this month and was designated a variant to watch out for by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday.

The new strain has spread throughout southern Africa and has since reached Europe, North America and Australia.

Tokyo had previously managed to drastically reduce its daily caseload of the Delta variant in mid-November due to strict Covid regulations and high vaccination rates.

The entry of the new Omicron variant to Japan has made other Asian countries wary. Low vaccination rates in some Asian countries could allow the variant to become widespread once it enters one country.

(sya)

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