Japan confirms first case of Omicron variant

Japan confirms first case of Omicron variant
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus walk along a street in Tokyo (Koji Sasahara/AP)

Japan has confirmed its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant after a test on a visitor who recently arrived from Namibia in southern Africa.

Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the man in his 30s tested positive on arrival at an airport on Sunday and was isolated and is being treated in hospital.

A genome analysis confirmed that he was infected with the new variant, which was first identified in South Africa.

His travel companions and passengers in nearby seats have been identified and reported to Japanese health authorities for follow up.

Japan Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Haneda international airport in Tokyo( Koji Sasahara/AP)

Japanese media said two of the man’s relatives tested negative and have been quarantined in a government facility near Narita airport.

Matsuno said the government will maintain strict border controls and will step up its capacity to conduct genome analyses of the new variant.

Japan announced on Monday that it will ban all foreign visitors from Tuesday as an emergency precaution against the variant.

The government is also requiring Japanese nationals and foreigners with resident permits to quarantine 14 days following entry.

The World Health Organisation warned on Monday that the global risk from the Omicron variant is “very high” based on the early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences”.

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