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Another mutant Covid strain as infectious as UK variant is found in Japan

People in Japan wearing PPE. Japan has discovered a new variant of coronavirus that was discovered in passengers who arrived in Tokyo from Brazil.
The mutant Covid strain was found in passengers arriving from Brazil (Picture: Splash, AP, Rex, Reuters)

Japan has detected a third mutant strain of coronavirus that is similar to the highly infectious variants spreading across the UK and South Africa. 

The strain was found in four passengers arriving from Brazil who were quarantined at Haneda Airport in Tokyo when they tested positive, Nikkei Asia reports.

Three of the group developed symptoms including struggling to breath, a fever and a sore throat, while one man in his 40s arrived on January 2 without any symptoms.

But he was later rushed to hospital with difficulties breathing, Bloomberg reports.

Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) confirmed the mutant strain and it was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

The country has seen a spike in coronavirus cases, with more than 6,000 new cases a day for the last four days, according to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Since the pandemic began Japan has recorded 290,270 cases and 3,870 deaths. 

A man waits arrival passengers at an international terminal of Tokyo's Haneda airport on Monday. Japan has discovered a new variant of coronavirus that was discovered in passengers who arrived in Tokyo from Brazil.
The group tested positive at Haneda Airport in Tokyo (Picture: Splash News)
Indonesian Technical Intern Trainees New imigration restrictions for the new variant of COVID-19, Haneda Internationl Airport, Tokyo, Japan. Japan has discovered a new variant of coronavirus that was discovered in passengers who arrived in Tokyo from Brazil.
Authorities have reported the new strain to the World Health Organisation (Picture: REX)
Kimono-clad youth wearing protective face masks leave their Coming of Age Day celebration ceremony. Japan has discovered a new variant of coronavirus that was discovered in passengers who arrived in Tokyo from Brazil.
Japan has recorded over 6,000 daily cases for the last four days (Picture: Reuters)
Police officers clash with men in kimonos near Yokohama Arena. Japan has discovered a new variant of coronavirus that was discovered in passengers who arrived in Tokyo from Brazil.
Japan has issued a state of emergency in the capital (Picture: Getty Images)

On Friday, the country’s state of emergency came into effect for Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

Bars and restaurants will be forced to close at 8pm for a month-long period which can be extended.

This is the most recently discovered mutant strain of the virus after the UK and South Africa uncovered their own highly infectious variants. 

The UK’s variant, found in early December, is thought to be the reason behind the latest deadly wave, with record high daily deaths and hospital admissions.

Last Friday saw the highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, with 1,325 fatalities recorded nationwide. 

About two weeks after the UK found its mutant strain South Africa revealed an even more infectious variant. 

The country went into its second hard lockdown on December 28, banning the sale of alcohol so hospital beds are kept free from alcohol-related trauma cases.

South Africa has a total of 33,163 deaths and 1,231,597 cases, with over 20,000 recorded in the last four days.

Unlike the UK, South Africa has not yet received any Covid vaccines, which will need to be distributed around its struggling healthcare system, local media reported.

Last week Transport Secretary Grant Shapps expressed doubts over whether the vaccine will work against the South African variant. 

He told Sky News: ‘There are the concerns about the South African one in particular about how effective the vaccine would be against it so we simply cannot take chances.’

However, just hours before the interview Pfizer published a study concluding their vaccine was just as effective against both the UK and South African strain. 

The research is yet to be peer-reviewed and does not ‘include the full set of spike mutations’ on the two strains.

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